Getting Started with OpenSees -- Introduction
Modern earthquake engineering utilizes modeling and simulation to understand the behavior and performance of systems during earthquakes. With the support of the National Science Foundation, the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) has developed the Open System for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, OpenSees for short, as a software platform for research and application of simulation for structural and geotechnical systems.
The OpenSees software framework uses object-oriented methodologies to maximize modularity and extensibility for implementing models for behavior, solution methods, and data processing and communication procedures. The framework is a set of inter-related classes, such as domains (data structures), models, elements (which are hierarchical), solution algorithms, integrators, equation solvers, and databases. The classes are as independent as possible, which allows great flexibility in combining modules to solve simulation problems for buildings and bridges, including soil and soil-structure-foundation interaction, and most recently including reliability computational modules. The open source software is managed and made available to users and developers through the OpenSees website at http://opensees.berkeley.edu.
The software architecture and open-source approach for OpenSees provide many benefits to users interested in advanced simulation of structural and geotechnical systems with realistic models of nonlinear behavior. First, the modeling approach is very flexible in that allows selection and various combinations of a number of different element formulations and material formulations, along with different approximations of kinematics to account for large-displacements and P-D effects. As an open-source project, developers and researchers are using the extensible features of the software architecture to add additional capability. A second advantage is that there is a wide range of solution procedures and algorithms that the user can adapt to solve difficult nonlinear problems for static and dynamic loads. Another feature is that OpenSees has a fully programmable scripting language for defining models, solution procedures, and post-processing that can provide simple problem solving capability, as illustrated in this manual, or very sophisticated modeling and parameters studies of large, complex systems. Finally, OpenSees provides a flexible interface to computer resources, storage and databases, and network communication to take advantage of high-end computing systems. Structural and geotechnical models can be analyzed from desktop PC's to parallel computers within OpenSees.
As an advanced platform for computational simulation, OpenSees provides an important resource for the National Science Foundation-sponsored George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), and it has been adopted by NEESgrid System Integration project as the NEES simulation component. The NEESgrid decision to utilize OpenSees and adapt it to interface with other NEESgrid resources provides an important capability for NEES researchers and users. The modular design of OpenSees means that it can be customized for the integrating physical and computation simulation through data repositories, visualization, and hybrid control for advanced experimental methods, all of which meet important NEES objectives.
Open source software, such as OpenSees, requires community support and participation. The objective of this "Getting Started" manual is to provide an introduction so that users of OpenSees can obtain, install, and begin using the software to solve problems.
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