25 June 2014

Mid term accomplishments

I will try to give a comprehensive feel of what I achieved in this first part of the Google Summer of Code, since it is time for the mid term evaluation. Let's start with an example: as usual, it is the Poisson equation, but today, as a twist, we consider a fully Neumann problem. In order for such a problem to be well posed there is the need of an additional constraint, otherwise the solution would not be unique, so in the Octave code there is the Lagrange multiplier cHere you can find more details and the C++ and Python code, I will just write down the differential problem for convenience:

- Δu = f in Ω
u ⋅ n = g on ∂Ω

Here is the Octave code that solves the above mentioned problem:

pkg load fem-fenics msh

ufl start NeumannPoisson
ufl CG = FiniteElement '("CG", triangle, 1)'
ufl R = FiniteElement '("R", triangle, 0)'
ufl W = CG * R
ufl "(u, c)" = TrialFunctions (W)
ufl "(v, d)" = TestFunctions (W)
ufl f = Coefficient (CG)
ufl g = Coefficient (CG)
ufl a = "(inner (grad (u), grad (v)) + c*v + u*d)*dx"
ufl L = f*v*dx + g*v*ds
ufl end

# Create mesh and function space
x = y = linspace (0, 1, 33);
mesh = Mesh(msh2m_structured_mesh (x, y, 1, 1:4));

W = FunctionSpace ("NeumannPoisson", mesh);

# Define variational problem
f = Expression ('f', @(x,y) 10*exp(-((x - 0.5)^2 + (y - 0.5)^2) / 0.02));
g = Expression ('g', @(x,y) - sin (5.0 * x));

a = BilinearForm ("NeumannPoisson", W, W);
L = LinearForm ("NeumannPoisson", W, f, g);

# Compute solution
[A, b] = assemble_system (a, L);
sol = A \ b;
solution = Function ('solution', W, sol);

u = Function ('u', solution, 1);

# Plot solution
[X, Y] = meshgrid (x, y);
U = u (X, Y);
surf (X, Y, U);

At the very beginning you can see a block with every line starting with ufl. That is what you would have to put in a separate UFL file before this summer. In a sense it is not plain UFL, but there are extra quotes and apices. They are needed because, using the current version of Octave, those brackets with commas inside would otherwise be interpreted as function calls. After this blocks closes with the ufl end line, the resulting UFL file is compiled to obtain a FunctionSpace, a BilinearForm and a LinearForm. These are oct-files that fem-fenics will use later on to define the corresponding variables in Octave. A robust implementation of ufl.m, the function that provides this binding to the UFL language, is one of the results of the first term.

In the end of the snippet you can see that the solution u is evaluated in its domain exactly as you expect to do with a regular function taking two arguments and returning one value. This is due to the new subsref method of the function class, which is used to represent the elements of a function space. Aside from surface plots, this feature can be of interest to generalise methods that rely on analytical solutions to differential problems, or to apply basically any algorithm to such functions. Here is the plot you will obtain with this script:

I wrote in an earlier post of the interpolate function: with this you can get the representation of a Function or Expression on a given FunctionSpace. It is useful, for instance, to compare your numerical solution with an exact one you happen to know. Or, in the example above, you might want to view what is the forcing term like:

f_cg = interpolate ("f_cg", f, u);
F = f_cg (X, Y);
surf (X, Y, F);

There is one last achievement to highlight for the mid term evaluation: currently both the initial compilation of the package and all the ones performed just-in-time when importing UFL instructions proceed smoothly without user intervention. To this end, now the build system relies on pkg-config to get at once all the flags needed for proper compilation and linking, since some dependencies of dolfin, the FEniCS interface, are not to be found in standard directories. In order to exploit the extracted information also for the subsequent run time builds, the autoconf substitution is performed also in the get_vars.m auxiliary function, which in turn provides it to generate_makefile.m. An implementation detail that proved quite tricky is how to pass all the preprocessor flags to mkoctfile: only a subset of the options of g++ are hard-coded in it, so I needed to resort to a workaround. Indeed, CPPFLAGS are always passed as environment variables and not as command line flags, so that mkoctfile will just copy and deliver them to the real compiler.

To further enhance the build system, I implemented other internal functions that hash the UFL file that was compiled and, later, check it to understand if it changed between the previous and the freshly requested build. In the example above, you will find in your working directory four new files after a run: the three already mentioned oct-files and a text file storing the md5 sum of the UFL that has been imported. Until one of these files gets somehow deleted or the problem in the ufl block changes, you will not need to take on a time consuming compilation any more.

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