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In 2007, the Institute of Applied Computing with Community Code (IAC3) was founded as a joint effort between GridSystems and the UIB. The very first IAC3 initiative was the idea of developing a software platform (Simflowny) that could provide users with a fast tool for prototyping new physical models and problems, of many different fields, bypassing the need to painfully handcraft code.
The antecedents of Simflowny date back into the numerical relativity work of the Balearic Islands University (UIB) team, leaded by Prof. Carles Bona and his former Ph.D. students Joan Massó and Antoni Arbona. In the early 90’s, J.Massó and Paul Walker (his Ph.D. student) started the development of Cactus, a numerical-relativity oriented computing platform. The concept was that of a high-performance community code. Due to the complexity of the new hyperbolic formulations of Einstein’s equations, under continuous development at this time, many graduate students, like Bernd Brügman and Antoni Arbona, developed some Mathematica scripts in order to automatically generate Cactus modules (‘thorns’).
With the turn of the century, J.Massó founded the GridSystems company, with A.Arbona as research manager. They became involved in some projects in the field of physiological simulations, were techniques for generating code were also developed. These were based on a more open formalization, based on MathML and XML in general, although they were focused more on Ordinary Differential Equations rather than on Partial Differential Equations. The need of community computing tools, beyond the strict numerical relativity limits, was then evident.
The conceptual data model and architecture for Simflowny were developed in the frame of the OntoPDE project (2007-2009). This concept was then implemented at the IAC3 by a software development team, formed by Antoni Artigues and Borja Miñano, assisted by Carles Bona-Casas, and coordinated by A.Arbona. Its initial focus was in physical models and discretization schemes that were familiar from the previous numerical relativity and magneto-hydrodynamics work at the UIB.
The first opportunity to test the platform came with the ‘Virtual Spain’ project (2008-2011), where Simflowny was used to generate wave-propagation and other physical effects on top of 3D geo-referenced virtual environments. In this very first version, code generation is restricted to either Cactus or the SAMRAI high-performance computing platforms.