Multiphysics Modeling Using Cellular Automata

Brian Vick

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The objective of this paper is to describe a new modeling and solution method that is relatively simple yet powerful enough to handle complex, multiphysics problems. The new methodology is based on a combination of cellular automata and control volume finite difference concepts. It involves a cascading sequence of simple, explicit rules of evaluation, rather than complicated partial differential equations. The resulting scheme is computationally explicit yet numerically stable. In addition to significant modeling flexibility, the cellular automata environment lends itself to extremely efficient computational algorithms and hardware implementation due to its inherent use of local rules and potential for parallel computation.

A major motivation for this work is the modeling of thermal-mechanical effects at sliding contacts and the more general issue of complex tribological phenomena. Tribology is in every sense of the word multidisciplinary. A multitude of different physical processes can occur simultaneously, often over widely varying time and length scales. The contact region between sliding bodies is a particularly interesting area, where thermal, mechanical, chemical, and electrical affects all play a role and interact in complex ways. Often our understanding of these phenomena is limited by the lack of a convenient methodology to model and solve such complex problems.

The power and flexibility of the proposed cellular automata methodology is demonstrated using several case studies of varying complexity relevant to phenomena occurring at sliding contacts. The current methodology is compared with traditional finite difference techniques.


multiphysics, cellular automata, tribology

[presentation materials]

Created by Mathematica  (May 11, 2006)