# THE CONCEPT OF HIERARCHICAL LEVELS; AN OVERALL CONCEPT FOR A FULL AUTOMATIC CONCRETE DESIGN INCLUDING THE EDUCATION OF CONCRETE.

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2 1. THE EXCEPTION PROVES THE RULE; KNOWLEDGE BASED AUTOMATIC CONCRETE DESIGN Our company MATRIX Software BV was founded in The Netherlands in The first years we developed structural analysis software for 2D-Frame, Grillage and 1D-Beam, called MatrixFrame 1). So far, so good, not really startling news until now. In the second stage of MatrixFrame we developed code checking software for concrete and steel structures as well as for designing joint connections. According to our slogan We continue, where others stops, we developed code checking software fully integrated with the structural analysis part. Here we met the first problems. In comparison with structural analysis software, software for code checking is rather fuzzy. Of course it is possible that inconvenient things may occur in structural analysis, like singular matrices or loss of accuracy, but these things are related to the mathematical bases of the structural analysis theory themselves. In the course of time we solved most of the problems. For example, loss of accuracy in case of large differences in stiffness or in case of non-linear analysis we solved by automatic division. Singular matrices in case of two or more releases acting on the same node by automatic modification of the stiffness matrix, and singularity in case of loss of stability by suggestion of additional supports. Figure 1. Practical solution for singular matrices Back to the problems related to code checking. Actually we can distinguish five types of data for code checking: 1. Geometrical data (system length, boundary conditions,..) 2. Section and material properties 3. Forces (internal forces, modified forces) 4. Additional data (like lateral buckling supports for steel structures and reinforcement for concrete structures) 5. Calculated data (formulas in the code, algorithms, results between) 1) The previous trade name of MatrixFrame was BouwRaam (MsDOS)

3 When we compare a stand-alone program with an integrated program, the stand-alone approach has a lot of disadvantages. The user should enter manually all data for data types 1 to 4. Especially for Forces (type 3) this is not so convenient, because each time the user can check only one combination of forces. The integrated version can check all combinations on all positions to determine the decisive combination and position. Of course the program should know which combination is responsible for which check, but MatrixFrame knows the difference between combinations related to Ultimate and Serviceability Limit State. Joining the code checking part to the structural analysis part is done very often in a straight way by copying data from one application to another one. After selection of a member, entering Additional data (type 5), some Geometrical data like boundary conditions (type 1) and modified forces (type 3), the necessary data from the structural analysis part is copied to code checking part, after which the check for this single member can be performed. This way is a Step-by-step approach. We decided to join the code checking part to the structural analysis part in a different way. We moved forward all Additional data entry (type 4). In this way the user will be able to enter all the necessary information at once, after which the check for all members can be performed at the same time. To get a higher level of integration we tried to get as much information as possible from the geometry and make this data suitable for the code checking. This is what we called the really fully integrated approach. Interpretation of geometry is not so easy as it looks like. Of course, for standard situations the only thing you have to do is to look to the end of a member and determine the boundary conditions. But, when boundary conditions are not clear, or boundary conditions are dependent on connecting members, there are a lot of uncertain situations. In this example the field definition, which we need to know for deflections check and lateral buckling check, is not clear: do we have one or two fields? In this example the boundary conditions we need for calculating buckling length are not clear. Figure 2. Boundary conditions are not clear Figure 3. Boundary conditions dependent on connecting members It s obvious that I can give a lot of examples related to the difficulties we met during interpretation of geometrical data. During implementation we got a lot of examples from our customers which gave bad interpretation of geometrical data. Every time we managed to solve these exceptions, together with our customers. It was interesting to see the great diversity of structures our customers send for review. To improve the efficiency of MatrixFrame, we also tried to reduce Additional data entry (type 4). Generating detailed additional data for code checking, for example reinforcement

4 bar combinations and the position of reinforcement bars, actually we automated the engineering design process. At first we started to examine a lot of our customers concerning the design process in civil engineering. In conclusion we can say that every customer has his own specific way of designing, but that there is a correspondence in the parameters; only the value differs. After this investigation we started programming. To make the program easy to learn and easy to use, all information was generated without interaction of the customer. Most of the user related settings are stored in a general maintenance part, because we figured out that the value of the design parameters doesn t change very often. In these examples the allowed size of the gap and differences between bar combinations on one position, as well as the trade length do have different values. Figure 4. Concrete design based on theoretical reinforcement Figure 5. Concrete design based on practical reinforcement The decision to generate all data without user interaction introduced a secondary effect we never expected. Hundreds of customers designed steel and concrete with our software, and several times they encountered the limits of the design algorithm and the relative lack of flexibility of the design parameters. The exception proves the rule. Our customers sent us their examples of structures, and every time we added new design rules to our software. The fact that we were secured of the co-operation of civil engineers (experts) concerning improvements made it possible for us to make our knowledge based system even more complete. The final result of this MsDOS based program was a complete structural design program for automatic generation of climatic and live loads and design of concrete, steel, joint connection, including the generation of drawings which could be realised at once, with one press on the button. 2. THE EXCEPTION BECOMES THE RULE; INTERACTIVE CONCRETE ENGINEERING A disadvantage of a full automatic structural design is the existence of exceptional cases. Every case needs to be programmed which leads to a huge programming effort. Sometimes customers became discontent, because a work-a-round was not available, and the engineer has to deliver his job in time. Who can wait on the upgrade of the software, if the contractor already has started?

5 Another point of view is the economical aspect. In order to complete the last 20% you need a programming effort of 80% of the total period. A lot of time should be spent on programming for situations that may never occur for the average group of customers. The last disadvantage I will mention is the imposed way of practising engineering: only the most economical solution fits. In renovation jobs for example, the civil engineer has to accept the existing situation. Also civil engineers, working for the government, approving the calculations for building allowance are absolutely not interested in economical design. In 1997 we started redesigning our software to the Windows platform. In the new concept the software is based on a structure very close related to the level of code checking. All the relevant parameters can be manipulated. The link to the code is absolutely clear by the visualisation of the applied code article as well as the provided value and the required value. Figure 6. Close relation to the code The interactive approach has given the right answer towards exceptions, because the exception becomes the rule. It doesn t give the right answer on the benefits of the good old DOS software: Velocity and economical automated design. 3. THE RULE; THE CONCEPT OF HIERARCHICAL LEVELS 80% of his time a civil engineer is using only 20% of the functionality of his software for structural analysis. A program doesn t need to be too complex for daily use. When you think in different levels you can manage the 80% for daily use, as well as the 20% for the advanced topics in 1 program. The basis of the concept of hierarchical levels is the calculation core with a complete functionality. When an easier variant of the calculation is needed, certain steps are omitted or the intermediate values are generated with a separate algorithm. In that case the same basic algorithm can be used, with one or more intermediate generation procedures. A user interface very close to the core needs a lot of data entry, because there are a lot of parameters. A user interface for the more simple related calculations only needs a couple of entry fields. For the train of thought the rule can be illustrative.

6 In 80% of the time simplified calculations are performed, in 20% the advanced ones, The simplified calculations only need 20% of the total data entry, the other 80% are needed for advanced calculations The standard simplified calculations cover 20% of the functionality, the advanced ones 80% We can classify the data entry very close to the core as level zero in the hierarchy. The standard input of simplified data is classified as level two in the hierarchy. Between these two levels we can classify level one for advanced input Figure 7. Level 0 Sections properties Figure 8. Level 1 Advanced parametric sections Figure 9. Level 2 Standard parametric sections Every time, when data is generated for the benefit of a lower level, a new level is introduced. This is the real challenge for the software developer. Although the functionality of each higher level decreases, the performance and efficiency for the user increases. From level 0 Core, level 1 Advanced and level 2 Standard simplified the next level 3 will bring the generation and optimising procedures. Our MsDOS software was based on level 3.

8 Figure 12. Level 3 Load generator for Wind loads Figure 13. Level 2 Load definition window and Level 1 Loads table In the next version of MatrixFrame we will start with implementation of level 4. To be continued

10 Figure 15. EuroCadCrete The last part of the exercise gives the student the opportunity to perform parametric studies, using the What if analysis. The student can see the cost price effect when: What if: the height of the beam is the minimum height What if: the height of the beam is the maximum height What if: the load factor increases EuroCadCrete is using the level 3 based MatrixFrame automatic concrete design algorithm for complete (hidden) redesign of the structure with the new parameters. After redesigning, including bar combination and positioning, the cost price estimation is performed. This calculated cost price is used to show the effect of the changes of the parameters. A learning system like EuroCadCrete is a combination of, on the one side, a Graphical User Interface based on the lowest level, and a check mechanism and parametric study on the other side, which is based on the higher levels within the concept of hierarchical levels. In April 2000 more than 100 students will perform their practical exercise with EuroCadCrete. After this fire-baptism the program is available for Universities and Technical schools all over Europe. CONCLUSION The case MatrixFrame versus EuroCadCrete proves that the concept of hierarchical levels is suitable for different purposes. This concept is an overall concept for a full automatic concrete design including the education of concrete. Of course the concept is also suitable for other applications in the field of civil engineering, like steel and structural analysis. 2) The first version of EuroCadCrete was according to the Dutch code

11 REFERENCES Galjaard ir. J (Hans).C., Vos Prof.ir. Charles J., Kunst Drs. Sabine: EuroCadCrete, an improved design exercise in reinforced concrete, CIB W78 IABSE EG-SEA-AI, Reykjavik June 28-30, 2000

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