Information Science

Finite-Element Methods for Real-Time Simulation of Surgery

Some accuracy is traded for computational speed. Two finite-element methods have been developed for mathematical modeling of the time-dependent behaviors of deformable objects and, more specifically, the mechanical responses of soft tissues and organs in contact with surgical tools. These methods may afford the computational efficiency needed to satisfy the requirement to obtain computational results in real time for simulating surgical procedures as described in "Simulation System for Training in Laparoscopic Surgery" (NPO-21192) on page 31 in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs.

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Modernizing Fortran 77 Legacy Codes

The investment in established codes is preserved as modern capabilities are added. An incremental approach to modernization of scientific software written in the Fortran 77 computing language has been developed. This approach makes it possible to preserve the investment in legacy Fortran software while augmenting the software with modern capabilities to satisfy expanded requirements. This approach could be advantageous (1) in situations in which major rewriting of application programs is undesirable or impossible, or (2) as a means of transition to major rewriting.

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Active State Model for Autonomous Systems

Autonomous systems would be able to diagnose themselves and respond accordingly. The concept of the active state model (ASM) is an architecture for the development of advanced integrated fault-detection- and-isolation (FDI) systems for robotic land vehicles, pilotless aircraft, exploratory spacecraft, or other complex engineering systems that will be capable of autonomous operation. An FDI system based on the ASM concept would not only provide traditional diagnostic capabilities, but also integrate the FDI system under a unified framework and provide mechanism for sharing of information between FDI subsystems to fully assess the overall "health" of the system.

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Prognostics Methodology for Complex Systems

Automatic method to detect and react to complex degradation and incipient faults. An automatic method to schedule maintenance and repair of complex systems is produced based on a computational structure called the Informed Maintenance Grid (IMG). This method provides solutions to the two fundamental problems in autonomic logistics: (1) unambiguous detection of deterioration or impending loss of function and (2) determination of the time remaining to perform maintenance or other corrective action based upon information from the system. The IMG provides a health determination over the medium-to-long-term operation of the system, from one or more days to years of study. The IMG is especially applicable to spacecraft and both piloted and autonomous aircraft, or industrial control processes.

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Modeling and Control of Aerothermoelastic Effects

This method makes it possible to design controls to compensate for aerothermoelasticity. Aerothermoelasticity comprises those aspects of the dynamics of an aircraft that are caused by flexibility and heating during flight. The concept of aerothermoelasticity is particularly important for hypersonic vehicles that operate at extremely high dynamic pressures. The design requirements for such vehicles often introduce long and thin fuselages subject to elastic bending in low- frequency vibrational modes. Furthermore, surface heating can significantly change the stiffness characteristics of these modes. These aerothermoelastic effects must be considered in the synthesis and analysis of control systems.

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Algorithms for Haptic Rendering of 3D Objects

Tactual displays provide the sensations of touching computationally simulated objects. Algorithms have been developed to provide haptic rendering of three-dimensional (3D) objects in virtual (that is, computationally simulated) environments. The goal of haptic rendering is to generate tactual displays of the shapes, hardnesses, surface textures, and frictional properties of 3D objects in real time. Haptic rendering is a major element of the emerging field of computer haptics, which invites comparison with computer graphics. We have already seen various applications of computer haptics in the areas of medicine (surgical simulation, telemedicine, haptic user interfaces for blind people, and rehabilitation of patients with neurological disorders), entertainment (3D painting, character animation, morphing, and sculpting), mechanical design (path planning and assembly sequencing), and scientific visualization (geophysical data analysis and molecular manipulation).

Posted in: Information Sciences, Electronics & Computers, Briefs

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A Concept for Run-Time Support of the Chapel Language

A document presents a concept for run-time implementation of other concepts embodied in the Chapel programming language. (Now undergoing development, Chapel is intended to become a standard language for parallel computing that would surpass older such languages in both computational performance in the efficiency with which pre-existing code can be reused and new code written.) The aforementioned other concepts are those of distributions, domains, allocations, and access, as defined in a separate document called “A Semantic Framework for Domains and Distributions in Chapel” and linked to a language specification defined in another separate document called “Chapel Specification 0.3.” The concept presented in the instant report is recognition that a data domain that was invented for Chapel offers a novel approach to distributing and processing data in a massively parallel environment. The concept is offered as a starting point for development of working descriptions of functions and data structures that would be necessary to implement interfaces to a compiler for transforming the aforementioned other concepts from their representations in Chapel source code to their run-time implementations.

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