Title page for ETD etd-08182009-221711

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Shu, Jiang
URN etd-08182009-221711
Title Experiment Management for the Problem Solving Environment WBCSim
Degree PhD
Department Computer Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Watson, Layne T. Committee Chair
Kamke, Frederick A. Committee Member
North, Christopher L. Committee Member
Ramakrishnan, Naren Committee Member
Shaffer, Clifford A. Committee Member
  • problem solving environment
  • XML
  • computational steering
  • computing environment
  • wood-based composite materials
  • database management
  • visualization
  • optimization
  • experiment management
Date of Defense 2009-08-10
Availability unrestricted
A problem solving environment (PSE) is a computational system that provides

a complete and convenient set of high level tools for solving problems

from a specific domain. This thesis takes an in-depth look at the experiment

management aspect of PSEs, which can be divided into three levels: 1) data

management, 2) change management, and 3) execution management. At the data

management level, anything related to an experiment (computer simulation)

should be stored and documented. A database management system can be used

to store the simulation runs for a PSE. Then various high level interfaces

can be provided to allow users to save, retrieve, search, and compare these

simulation runs. At the change management level, a scientist should only

focus on how to solve a problem in the experiment domain. Aside from

running experiments, a scientist may only consider how to define a new

model, how to modify an existing model, and how to interpret an experiment

result. By using XML to describe a simulation model and unify various

implementation layers, changing an existing model in a PSE can be intuitive

and fast. At the execution management level, how an experiment is executed

is the main concern. By providing a computational steering capability, a

scientist can pause, examine, and compare the intermediate results from a

simulation. Contrasted with the traditional way of running a lengthy

simulation to see the result at the end, computational steering can leverage

the user's expert knowledge on the fly (during the simulation run) and

provide new insights and new product design opportunities. This thesis

illustrates these concepts and implementation by using WBCSim as an example.

WBCSim is a PSE that increases the productivity of wood scientists conducting

research on wood-based composite materials and manufacturing processes.

It integrates Fortran 90 simulation codes with a Web based graphical front

end, an optimization tool, and various visualization tools. The WBCSim

project was begun in 1997 with support from United States Department of

Agriculture, Department of Energy, and Virginia Tech. It has since been

used by students in several wood science classes, by graduate students and

faculty, and by researchers at several forest products companies. WBCSim

also serves as a test bed for the design, construction, and evaluation of

useful, production quality PSEs.

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