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Scientific Programming
Volume 17 (2009), Issue 3, Pages 215-230

Mesh Algorithms for PDE with Sieve I: Mesh Distribution

Matthew G. Knepley and Dmitry A. Karpeev

Mathematics and Computer Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439, USA

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We have developed a new programming framework, called Sieve, to support parallel numerical partial differential equation(s) (PDE) algorithms operating over distributed meshes. We have also developed a reference implementation of Sieve in C++ as a library of generic algorithms operating on distributed containers conforming to the Sieve interface. Sieve makes instances of the incidence relation, or arrows, the conceptual first-class objects represented in the containers. Further, generic algorithms acting on this arrow container are systematically used to provide natural geometric operations on the topology and also, through duality, on the data. Finally, coverings and duality are used to encode not only individual meshes, but all types of hierarchies underlying PDE data structures, including multigrid and mesh partitions. In order to demonstrate the usefulness of the framework, we show how the mesh partition data can be represented and manipulated using the same fundamental mechanisms used to represent meshes. We present the complete description of an algorithm to encode a mesh partition and then distribute a mesh, which is independent of the mesh dimension, element shape, or embedding. Moreover, data associated with the mesh can be similarly distributed with exactly the same algorithm. The use of a high level of abstraction within the Sieve leads to several benefits in terms of code reuse, simplicity, and extensibility. We discuss these benefits and compare our approach to other existing mesh libraries.