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Parallelizing Adaptive Spacetime Finite Element Simulations

S. Chakravorty, A. Becker, R. Blake, and L. V. Kale, Department of Computer Science

Spacetime finite element mesh of crack-tip wave scattering. The Z axis represents time and the X and Y axes represent space. The propagation of shock waves is readily apparent from the pattern of mesh refinement. Zoom

Decomposition of space meshDecomposition of space mesh

A view of the decomposition of the space mesh onto processors. Each mesh part works independently, communicating with other parts as necessary. Zoom


Shock waves drive many forms of material failure and transformation. Parallelizing shock simulations will allow scientists to get results faster and study problems at a scale that was impossible on desktop computers.


We have tied the serial program into ParFUM, a framework for parallel finite element programs developed at the University of Illinois. This framework handles the communication and synchronization needed to divide the mesh among hundreds or thousands of processors. This approach is more scalable than previous techniques which kept a master mesh on one processor and farmed work out to other processors.


On a desktop workstation, spacetime finite element simulations can take days or weeks. By running these simulations on supercomputers, scientists can get results that used to take days in minutes. This means that they can study problems so large that they would be impossible to do on a desktop machine.

This material is also available in a Powerpoint slide "nugget".

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