Linköping University Professor of Mathematics Jan Nordström is the only Swede participating in an EU-funded research project whose goal is to provide more certain and more robust simulations in the construction of aircraft.
“Looking systematically at uncertainty and building this kind of systematic thinking into the design and construction process is a relatively new phenomenon,” says Jan Nordström, professor of Computational Mathematics at LiU’s Department of Mathematics.
Virtual prototypesBoth time and money can be gained by using virtual prototypes when new and advanced techniques are developed – that is, building a car or an aeroplane on the computer, component by component, and simulating all or parts of the construction before the first actual, physical prototype is produced. Many expensive mistakes can be avoided this way – provided that the models are correct and reliable.
“A number of experiments are performed before the flight, but sometimes there is uncertainty in the input and how it affects the output or the final result. If there is a given equation where small changes in the input result in large changes in the output, this means that the uncertainty in the model is great. If the calculations deal with aerodynamic lift, for example, this naturally has major significance,” Nordström explains.
UMRIDA-projectThe UMRIDA project will now find where the largest uncertainties are, identify vulnerable areas, and also propose how the uncertainties should be dealt with – all to obtain more robust models and calculations.
Nordström, whose project budget for those three years is around EUR 270,000 (SEK 2.3 million), has recruited a PhD student, Markus Wahlsten, who after the summer will sink his teeth into Linköping University’s portion of the project.
“What we’re going to do is look more closely at the original problem. I think it will be possible to reformulate the mathematical question and improve the method of introducing uncertainty into the data,” Nordström says.