Texas Tech University

Engineering Professor Receives National Science Foundation Grant to Take New Approach in Accurate Numerical Simulation Wave Propagation

Amanda Bowman

September 9, 2019

Alexander Idesman

Alexander Idesman is working on a new computational method that will quickly, and accurately, solve the way waves spread, leading to better structural designs in the future.

What do acoustic, seismic and electromagnetic waves all have in common? They all speak the same mathematical language. The problem, however, lies in quickly, and accurately, solving their equations.

Alexander Idesman, a professor of mechanical engineering in Texas Tech University's Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, received a grant from the National Science Foundation to not only improve the accuracy of the solutions, but also reduce the computational time it takes to solve them with the use of supercomputers.

"I have been working in this area for more than 10 years, and I have not seen any literature on what I'm proposing," Idesman said. "I am working on a revolutionary numerical technique that can reduce computation time by a factor of 10,000 or more. Instead of a large problem taking a year to solve, it can be done in days. If you make a mistake, then you don't have to wait a long time to recognize it."

New numerical algorithms mean precise, accurate simulations when testing the effects of wave propagation, or the deviation from a state of rest or equilibrium, on structures. Idesman uses airplanes as an example.

Alexander Idesman
Alexander Idesman

"Part of the problems related to modern aircraft cracks and dynamics are wave propagation," Idesman said. "In airplanes, for example, there may be some crack failures. Sometimes you can't avoid this crack propagation. But if we can accurately simulate and predict the crack propagation, then we can modify the design of the aircraft to mitigate the problem."

Airplanes aren't the only structures that could benefit from these simulations. Another application is related to areas prone to earthquakes where the accurate simulation of wave propagation from seismic activity will help improve the resiliency of buildings, houses, highways and more.