Theses Doctoral

Structure Preserving and Scalable Simulation of Colliding Systems

Smith, Breannan

Predictive computational tools to study granular materials are important in fields ranging from the geosciences and civil engineering to computer graphics. The simulation of granular materials, however, presents many challenges. The behavior of a granular medium is fundamentally multi-scale, with pair-wise interactions between discrete granules able to influence the continuum-scale evolution of a bulk material. Computational techniques for studying granular materials must therefore contend with this multi-scale nature.
This research first addresses both the question of how to accurately model interactions between grains and the question of how to achieve multi-scale simulations of granular materials. We propose a novel rigid body contact model and a time integration technique that, for the first time, are able to simultaneously capture five key features of rigid body impact. We further validate this new model and time integration method by reproducing computationally challenging phenomena from granular physics.
We next propose a technique to couple discrete and continuum models of granular materials to one another. This hybrid model reveals a family of possible discretizations suitable for simulation. We derive an explicit integration technique from this framework that is able to capture phenomena previously reserved for discrete treatments, including frictional jamming, while treating bulk regions of the material with a continuum model. To effectively handle the large plastic deformations inherent in the evolution of a granular medium, we further propose a method to dynamically update which regions are treated with a discrete model and which regions are treated with a continuum model. We demonstrate that hybrid simulations of a dynamically evolving granular material are possible and practical, and lay the foundation for further algorithmic development in this space.
Finally, as the the tools used in computational science and engineering become progressively more complex, the ability to effectively train students in the field becomes increasingly important. We address the question of how to train students from a computer science background in numerical computation techniques by proposing a new system to automatically vet and identify problems in numerical simulations. This system has been deployed at the undergraduate and graduate level in a course on physical simulation at Columbia University, and has increased both student retention and student satisfaction with the course.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Thesis Advisors
Grinspun, Eitan
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 21, 2018