Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

Committee Director

Nikos P. Chrisochoides

Committee Director

Andrey Chernikov

Committee Member

Yaohang Li

Committee Member

Charles I. Sukenik

Committee Member

Mike Park

Committee Member

Sarah F. Frisken


This thesis concerns the development, analysis, and computer implementation of mesh generation algorithms encountered in finite element modeling in health care and aerospace. The finite element method can reduce a continuous system to a discrete idealization that can be solved in the same manner as a discrete system, provided the continuum is discretized into a finite number of simple geometric shapes (e.g., triangles in two dimensions or tetrahedrons in three dimensions).

In health care, namely anatomic modeling, a discretization of the biological object is essential to compute tissue deformation for physics-based simulations. This thesis proposes an efficient procedure to convert 3-dimensional imaging data into adaptive lattice-based discretizations of well-shaped tetrahedra or mixed elements (i.e., tetrahedra, pentahedra and hexahedra). This method operates directly on segmented images, thus skipping a surface reconstruction that is required by traditional Computer-Aided Design (CAD)-based meshing techniques and is convoluted, especially in complex anatomic geometries. Our approach utilizes proper mesh gradation and tissue-specific multi-resolution, without sacrificing the fidelity and while maintaining a smooth surface to reflect a certain degree of visual reality.

Image-to-mesh conversion can facilitate accurate computational modeling for biomechanical registration of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in image-guided neurosurgery. Neuronavigation with deformable registration of preoperative MRI to intraoperative MRI allows the surgeon to view the location of surgical tools relative to the preoperative anatomical (MRI) or functional data (DT-MRI, fMRI), thereby avoiding damage to eloquent areas during tumor resection. This thesis presents a deformable registration framework that utilizes multi-tissue mesh adaptation to map preoperative MRI to intraoperative MRI of patients who have undergone a brain tumor resection. Our enhancements with mesh adaptation improve the accuracy of the registration by more than 5 times compared to rigid and traditional physics-based non-rigid registration, and by more than 4 times compared to publicly available B-Spline interpolation methods. The adaptive framework is parallelized for shared memory multiprocessor architectures. Performance analysis shows that this method could be applied, on average, in less than two minutes, achieving desirable speed for use in a clinical setting.

The last part of this thesis focuses on finite element modeling of CAD data. This is an integral part of the design and optimization of components and assemblies in industry. We propose a new parallel mesh generator for efficient tetrahedralization of piecewise linear complex domains in aerospace. CAD-based meshing algorithms typically improve the shape of the elements in a post-processing step due to high complexity and cost of the operations involved. On the contrary, our method optimizes the shape of the elements throughout the generation process to obtain a maximum quality and utilizes high performance computing to reduce the overheads and improve end-user productivity. The proposed mesh generation technique is a combination of Advancing Front type point placement, direct point insertion, and parallel multi-threaded connectivity optimization schemes. The mesh optimization is based on a speculative (optimistic) approach that has been proven to perform well on hardware-shared memory. The experimental evaluation indicates that the high quality and performance attributes of this method see substantial improvement over existing state-of-the-art unstructured grid technology currently incorporated in several commercial systems. The proposed mesh generator will be part of an Extreme-Scale Anisotropic Mesh Generation Environment to meet industries expectations and NASA's CFD vision


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