COSSAN-X: Interaction with 3rd party software
Despite to the continous research and progress achieved in the computational stochastic mechanics field, surprisingly the developed methods and tools in this regard are not being recognized or appreciated enough by the industry and practitioners. This in fact has been one of the driving motivations behind the development of COSSAN-X, namely to strengthen the bridge between the industry and academic researchers, since nowadays the popularity of any method used on real applications is very much dependent on the availability of efficient software, which facilitate the use of these methods without an extensive training. In other words, it is crucial that the tools of stochastic analysis are offered to the industry within a easy-to-use general purpose software, so that these algorithms are actually used for practical applications and its remedies can be recognized by the authorities.
The foreseen methodology in order to achieve this goal is to provide the industry with the general purpose user-friendly software, which can interact with the 3rd party deterministic FE solvers. The advantages in this case are twofold: (i) to make ample use of the advanced solution and visualization capabilities of the commercial 3rd party FE software, (ii) to offer the industry the tools of the stochastic analysis in a platform, which they are already familiar with.
From the point of interaction with 3rd party software, the methods can be classified into two groups, namely intrusive and non-intrusive methods, respectively. On one hand, non-intrusive methods refer to those, where 3rd party programs can be used in a black-box fashion, i.e. no modification is required on the 3rd party program. The intrusive methods, on the other hand, require calculations with system matrices. Therefore, these matrices have to be accessed in the deterministic solver. This may require advanced knowledge or even modifications on the solver side. Consequently, the implementation of this class of methods is more involved.
Manipulation of Input/Output files
In this context, COSSAN-X provides the most advanced communication tools to interact with the third-party commercial FE software. To start with, thanks to its powerful editor within the GUI, the manipulation of the input/output files has been made a trivial task for the user.
This editor is especially designed to handle the interaction with the most widely used FE solvers, such as NASTRAN, ANSYS and ABAQUS. More specifically, it recognizes the various formats or keywords used by these programs, which makes the definition of the identifiers (special characters to be replaced with numbers) much simpler. In fact via this editor, any solver using ASCII input files can be interacted. In addition, the implementations within the COSSAN-X engine are developed to optimize the data transfer between the various programs, which might become a computational bottleneck for large and complex structures with large numbers of random parameters.
Finally, COSSAN-X offers plug-ins, which are embeddded GUI's on the third party platforms. These tools enable an easy and interactive analysis using already existing deterministic FE models.