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Using a Quadtree Algorithm To Assess Line of Sight

A matched pair of computer algorithms determines whether line of sight (LOS) is obstructed by terrain. These algorithms were originally designed for use in conjunction with combat-simulation software in military training exercises, but could also be used for such commercial purposes as evaluating lines of sight for antennas or determining what can be seen from a “room with a view.” The quadtree preparation algorithm operates on an array of digital elevation data and only needs to be run once for a terrain region, which can be quite large. Relatively little computation time is needed, as each elevation value is considered only one and one-third times. The LOS assessment algorithm uses that quadtree to answer LOS queries. To determine whether LOS is obstructed, a piecewise-planar (or higher-order) terrain skin is computationally draped over the digital elevation data. Adjustments are made to compensate for curvature of the Earth and for refraction of the LOS by the atmosphere. Average computing time appears to be proportional to the number of queries times the logarithm of the number of elevation data points. Accuracy is as high as is possible for the available elevation data, and symmetric results are assured. In the simulation, the LOS query program runs as a separate process, thereby making more random-access memory available for other computations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Optics Program Modified for Multithreaded Parallel Computing

A powerful high-performance computer program for simulating and analyzing adaptive and controlled optical systems has been developed by modifying the serial version of the Modeling and Analysis for Controlled Optical Systems (MACOS) program to impart capabilities for multithreaded parallel processing on computing systems ranging from supercomputers down to Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) personal computers. The modifications included the incorporation of OpenMP, a portable and widely supported application interface software, that can be used to explicitly add multithreaded parallelism to an application program under a shared-memory programming model. OpenMP was applied to parallelize raytracing calculations, one of the major computing components in MACOS. Multithreading is also used in the diffraction propagation of light in MACOS based on p-threads [POSIX Thread, (where “POSIX” signifies a portable operating system for UNIX)]. In tests of the parallelized version of MACOS, the speedup in ray-tracing calculations was found to be linear, or proportional to the number of processors, while the speedup in diffraction calculations ranged from 50 to 60 percent, depending on the type and number of processors. The parallelized version of MACOS is portable, and, to the user, its interface is basically the same as that of the original serial version of MACOS.

Posted in: Photonics, Software, Briefs, TSP

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Software for Automated Generation of Cartesian Meshes

Cart3D is a collection of computer programs for generating Cartesian meshes [for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and other applications] in volumes bounded by solid objects. Aspects of Cart3D at earlier stages of development were reported in “Robust and Efficient Generation of Cartesian Meshes for CFD” (ARC-14275), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 23, No. 8 (August 1999), page 30. The geometric input to Cart3D comprises surface triangulations like those commonly generated by computer- aided-design programs. Complexly shaped objects can be represented as assemblies of simpler ones. Cart3D deletes all portions of such an assembled object that are not on the exterior surface. Intersections between components are preserved in the resulting triangulation. A tie-breaking routine unambiguously resolves geometric degeneracies. Then taking the intersected surface triangulation as input, the volume mesh is generated through division of cells of an initially coarse hexahedral grid. Cells are subdivided to refine the grid in regions of increased surface curvature and/or increased flow gradients. Cells that become split into multiple unconnected regions by thin pieces of surface are identified.

Posted in: Software, Briefs, TSP

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Java Mission Evaluation Workstation System

The Java Mission Evaluation Workstation System (JMEWS) is a collection of applications designed to retrieve, display, and analyze both real-time and recorded telemetry data. This software is currently being used by both the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) and the International Space Station (ISS) program. JMEWS was written in the Java programming language to satisfy the requirement of platform independence. An object-oriented design was used to satisfy additional requirements and to make the software easily extendable. By virtue of its platform independence, JMEWS can be used on the UNIX workstations in the Mission Control Center (MCC) and on office computers. JMEWS includes an interactive editor that allows users to easily develop displays that meet their specific needs. The displays can be developed and modified while viewing data. By simply selecting a data source, the user can view real-time, recorded, or test data.

Posted in: Briefs

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Computing Isentropic Flow Properties of Air/ R-134a Mixtures

MACHRK is a computer program that calculates isentropic flow properties of mixtures of air and refrigerant R-134a (tetrafluoroethane), which are used in transonic aerodynamic testing in a wind tunnel at Langley Research Center. Given the total temperature, total pressure, static pressure, and mole fraction of R-134a in a mixture, MACHRK calculates the Mach number and the following associated flow properties: dynamic pressure, velocity, density, static temperature, speed of sound, viscosity, ratio of specific heats, Reynolds number, and Prandtl number. Real-gas effects are taken into account by treating the gases comprising the mixture as both thermally and calorically imperfect. The Redlich-Kwong equation of state for mixtures and the constant-pressure ideal heat-capacity equation for the mixture are used in combination with the departure-function approach of thermo thermodynamics to obtain the equations for computing the flow properties. In addition to the aforementioned calculations for air/R-134a mixtures, a research version of MACHRK can perform the corresponding calculations for mixtures of air and R- 12 (dichlorodifluoromethane) and for air/SF6 mixtures. [R-12 was replaced by R- 134a because of environmental concerns. SF6 has been considered for use in increasing the Reynolds-number range.]

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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DCS-Neural-Network Program for Aircraft Control and Testing

A computer program implements a dynamic-cell-structure (DCS) artificial neural network that can perform such tasks as learning selected aerodynamic characteristics of an airplane from windtunnel test data and computing realtime stability and control derivatives of the airplane for use in feedback linearized control. A DCS neural network is one of several types of neural networks that can incorporate additional nodes in order to rapidly learn increasingly complex relationships between inputs and outputs. In the DCS neural network implemented by the present program, the insertion of nodes is based on accumulated error. A competitive Hebbian learning rule (a supervised-learning rule in which connection weights are adjusted to minimize differences between actual and desired outputs for training examples) is used. A Kohonen-style learning rule (derived from a relatively simple training algorithm, implements a Delaunay triangulation layout of neurons) is used to adjust node positions during training. Neighborhood topology determines which nodes are used to estimate new values. The network learns, starting with two nodes, and adds new nodes sequentially in locations chosen to maximize reductions in global error. At any given time during learning, the error becomes homogeneously distributed over all nodes.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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Infrastructure for Rapid Development of Java GUI Programs

The Java Application Shell (JAS) is a software framework that accelerates the development of Java graphical-userinterface (GUI) application programs by enabling the reuse of common, proven GUI elements, as distinguished from writing custom code for GUI elements. JAS is a software infrastructure upon which Java interactive application programs and graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for those programs can be built as sets of plug-ins. JAS provides an application- programming interface that is extensible by application-specific plugins that describe and encapsulate both specifications of a GUI and applicationspecific functionality tied to the specified GUI elements. The desired GUI elements are specified in Extensible Markup Language (XML) descriptions instead of in compiled code. JAS reads and interprets these descriptions, then creates and configures a corresponding GUI from a standard set of generic, reusable GUI elements. These elements are then attached (again, according to the XML descriptions) to applicationspecific compiled code and scripts. An application program constructed by use of JAS as its core can be extended by writing new plug-ins and replacing existing plug-ins. Thus, JAS solves many problems that Java programmers generally solve anew for each project, thereby reducing development and testing time.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP

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