Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start a coupled simulation with preCICE?

In order to start a coupled simulation, you can execute the (adapted) participants normally, as you would execute them for a non-coupled simulation. “Adapted” means either that the solver is modified to call the preCICE library, or that it loads a separate “preCICE adapter” at runtime. Often it is helpful to just start the simulations in different terminals.

Please note that that the solvers call preCICE (as it is a library) and not the opposite. There is no “preCICE executable” required to start the simulation.

Is there any separate mesh defined for the coupling?

No. The user specifies one of the participants’ meshes to be used for the coupling.

The interface meshes are given names in the preCICE configuration file and each adapter specifies the locations of each node that lies on its side of the interface.

How does preCICE treat non-conforming meshes?

preCICE supports several methods to map the interface values from the one mesh to the other. The simplest method uses the nearest-neighbor’s value, while more advanced methods like the nearest-projection mapping or the Radial-Basis Function mapping include contributions from neighboring nodes.

Does preCICE use files for the communication?

No. Using files would be very slow. The preCICE participants communicate either through TCP/IP sockets or through MPI ports.

Additionally, any processes that need to communicate, do so directly (Peer-to-Peer), without needing to go through any central instance (“server”).

Can preCICE be used for volume coupling?

Yes, but it will be computationally expensive. preCICE is mainly designed to couple simulations that share a common surface boundary. In this case, all the coupled volume nodes should be specified in the coupling mesh.

What are the advantages of preCICE in comparison to other coupling software?

Such a list would be difficult to maintain, however you can have a look at the introductory section of our reference paper.

When comparing preCICE to other software, look for the following key points:

Library approach
preCICE is not a framework which is used to call the participating solvers, but a library which the solvers call. This allows for great flexibility: you can easily make your own in-house solvers use the preCICE library and you can allocate different computational resources for each participant, using the same tools that you may already use.
preCICE is designed especially for massively parallel simulations. For this reason, each process of each participant communicates directly with any other processes of other participants, without passing through a central bottleneck. Additionally, all the communication happens using either the network TCP/IP sockets or MPI ports, methods much faster than exchanging files through the filesystem. Last but not least, advanced numerical methods can accelerate the coupling already in the algorithmic level.
Coupling algorithms
preCICE supports fully implicit (strong) coupling, accelerated by sophisticated and robust quasi-Newton algorithms. These stabilize and accelerate the solution.
Data mapping techniques
preCICE offers several first and second order methods to map the interface values between non-matching meshes, including Radial-Basis Functions.
preCICE can easily be used to couple more than two simulations.
preCICE is free software, distributed under the GNU LGPL3 license and actively maintained on GitHub. Of course, as with any free software, the documentation of a commercial alternative may be more extended. However, we constantly improve our documentation, based on the feedback we get from preCICE users.

How is preCICE funded?

preCICE is orginally an academic software. We have received public funding from several projects that use and develop preCICE. This applies currently, e.g., to the DFG-funded ExaFSA project, part of SPPEXA. Recently, DFG had also a specific call on research software sustainability, in which we were succesful: The project preDOM should take preCICE to the next level, from a prototype to a wide-spread sustainable scientific software. Specific funding for basic un-academic things such as tutorials, outreach, or documentation has been granted. Besides this public funding, both active academic developer groups, SCCS at the Technical University of Munich and SGS at the University of Stuttgart, also invest own internal funding.

Since 2017, the spin-off COPLON provides support, training, and software solutions for industrials users of preCICE.

Last, as any open-source project, preCICE could only survive through its user’s and developer’s passionate commitment also in their after-work hours.