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Thursday, May 24, 2012
Wolfram's New SystemModeler Tool Models Physical Systems


Mathematica maker Wolfram Research has released SystemModeler, a desktop application for full-scale system modeling and simulation.

SystemModeler is a general environment that handles modeling of systems with mechanical, electrical, thermal, chemical, biological, and other components, as well as combinations of different types of components. It's based - like Mathematica - on the very general idea of representing everything in symbolic form.

In SystemModeler, a system is built from a hierarchy of connected components - often assembled interactively using SystemModeler's drag-and-drop interface. Internally, what SystemModeler does is to derive from its symbolic system description a large collection of differential-algebraic and other equations and event specifications-which it then solves using built-in hybrid symbolic-numeric methods. The result of this is a fully computable representation of the system-that mirrors what an actual physical version of the system would do, but allows instant visualization, simulation, analysis, or whatever.

Here's an example of SystemModeler in action?with a 2,685-equation dynamic model of an airplane being used to analyze the control loop for continuous descent landings:



What SystemModeler does is to use a fully symbolic representation of everything, which immediately allows both arbitrary domains to be covered, and much more flexible models for components to be used. The breakthrough is that by using a new generation of hybrid symbolic-numeric methods, SystemModeler is capable of solving for the behavior of even very large-scale such systems.

When one starts SystemModeler, there?s a library of thousands of standard component's sensors, actuators, gears, resistors, joints, heaters, and so on. And one of the key features of SystemModeler is that it uses the new standard Modelica language for system specifications?so one can immediately make use of model libraries from component manufacturers and others.

SystemModeler is set up to automate many kinds of system modeling work. Once one's got a system specified, SystemModeler can simulate any aspect of the behavior of the system, producing visualizations and 3D animations. It can also synthesize a report in the form of an interactive website?or generate a computable model of the system as a standalone executable.

These capabilities alone would make SystemModeler an useful product for a whole range of industries from aerospace to automotive, marine, consumer, manufacturing, and beyond.

By integrating Mathematica, it takes just a line or two of Mathematica code to do a parameter sweep, or a sensitivity analysis, or a sophisticated optimization on a model from SystemModeler. The software also includes all of the interface features of Mathematica, ofering users the ability to do visualizations, instantly introduce interactive controls, or produce computable CDF documents as reports.

But even more than this, one gets to use all of the algorithms and analysis capabilities of Mathematica. So it becomes straightforward to take a model, and do statistical analysis on it, build a control system for it, or export results in any of the formats Mathematica supports.


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