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Overall Objectives

ACUMES aims at developing a rigorous framework for numerical simulations and optimal control for transportation and buildings, with focus on multi-scale, heterogeneous, unsteady phenomena subject to uncertainty. Starting from established macroscopic Partial Differential Equation (PDE) models, we pursue a set of innovative approaches to include small-scale phenomena, which impact the whole system. Targeting applications contributing to sustainability of urban environments, we couple the resulting models with robust control and optimization techniques.

Modern engineering sciences make an important use of mathematical models and numerical simulations at the conception stage. Effective models and efficient numerical tools allow for optimization before production and to avoid the construction of expensive prototypes or costly post-process adjustments. Most up-to-date modeling techniques aim at helping engineers to increase performances and safety and reduce costs and pollutant emissions of their products. For example, mathematical traffic flow models are used by civil engineers to test new management strategies in order to reduce congestion on the existing road networks and improve crowd evacuation from buildings or other confined spaces without constructing new infrastructures. Similar models are also used in mechanical engineering, in conjunction with concurrent optimization methods, to reduce energy consumption, noise and pollutant emissions of cars, or to increase thermal and structural efficiency of buildings while, in both cases, reducing ecological costs.

Nevertheless, current models and numerical methods exhibit some limitations:

Most simulation-based design procedures used in engineering still rely on steady (time-averaged) state models. Significant improvements have already been obtained with such a modeling level, for instance by optimizing car shapes, but finer models taking into account unsteady phenomena are required in the design phase for further improvements.

The classical purely macroscopic approach, while offering a framework with a sound analytical basis, performing numerical techniques and good modeling features to some extent, is not able to reproduce some particular phenomena related to specific interactions occurring at lower (possibly micro) level. We refer for example to self-organizing phenomena observed in pedestrian flows, or to the dynamics of turbulent flows for which large scale / small scale vortical structures interfere. These flow characteristics need to be taken into account to obtain more precise models and improved optimal solutions.

Uncertainty related to operational conditions (e.g. inflow velocity in aerodynamics), or models (e.g. individual behavior in crowds) is still rarely considered in engineering analysis and design, yielding solutions of poor robustness.

This project focuses on the analysis and optimal control of classical and non-classical evolutionary systems of Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) arising in the modeling and optimization of engineering problems related to safety and sustainability of urban environments, mostly involving fluid-dynamics and structural mechanics. The complexity of the involved dynamical systems is expressed by multi-scale, time-dependent phenomena, possibly subject to uncertainty, which can hardly be tackled using classical approaches, and require the development of unconventional techniques.

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