IChrome Ltd.

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iChrome is a U.K. software and engineering company founded in 2009. The firm specializes in mathematical optimization and finite element structural analysis; its two main commercial software lines include programs called Nexus, intended for process integration and Grapheme, a data visualization and analysis tool.

Grapheme

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With its data filtering and manipulation capabilities, along with interactive, responsive plotting functionality, iChrome's Grapheme is intended to help explore and understand large, complex data sets. The program imports data from MatLab, Excel, Access and various SQL databases into its columns and tables. Multiple tables are possible, including an arbitrary number of computed columns. Dynamic filters offer multiple table views, statistics and advanced data visualization. Released as an offshoot of the Nexus program, according to its developers, Grapheme is aimed at enabling non-specialists to do data-mining, statistical result assessment and post-processing.

The program offers interactive 2D and 3D charts, including multiple lines, scatters, bars, pies, spiders, parallel axes, surfaces, bubbles, distribution and clustering. Point information can be accessed via tooltips and data series can be explored through zoom and pan capabilities. Plot attributes, including font size, line style, colours, transparency, shading and background, are customizable.

In addition to standard sorting, data filters such as Pareto efficiency, k-means clustering, DBSCAN, Percentile and Confidence are available.

Nexus

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iChrome's Nexus is process integration software designed to solve multi-disciplinary and multi-objective optimization problems via a flowchart representation validated on the fly. (The Latin word "nexus" ("connecting") refers to the graphical connection of different evaluation nodes to define a particular design or optimization problem.) Nexus integrates different engineering and design tools to perform data exploitation (trade-off and design-of-experiments studies, statistical analyses, response surface and metamodelling) as well as multi-objective optimization tasks.

Library modules

Nexus makes use of a proprietary multi-threading library to perform independent, real-time parallel evaluations. The software can directly access remote hosts via SSH connections handling multiple accounts within the same project via user defined SSH credentials.

A flowchart module provides an abstraction level that allows the software to exchange and pass data (scalars, matrices, strings, files and other resources) across different evaluation nodes.

Other plug-ins include libraries for gradient-based and genetic algorithm optimization, for two- and three-dimensional chart and plot generation and for linking to external SQLite, Firebird, PostgreSQL or Microsoft Access databases.

Algorithms, methods and implementation

Nexus's implementation of optimization algorithms includes Nelder-Mead simplex, Bounded BFGS, Levenberg-Marquardt least-square minimization, sequential linear programming, SQP (nlConst), generalized moving asymptotes method, adaptive simulated annealing, mesh-adaptive search, multiple-criteria decision analysis, feasibility region search, and single and multi-objective particle swarm optimization, among others.

A response surfaces library facilitates designs of experiments through methods for random-point or full-factorial allocation; Latin and optimal Latin hypercube, Latin square and Taguchi orthogonal matrix; cubic face–centred, Box-Behnken, Plackett–Burman and D-optimal design. The same library includes techniques for k-nearest neighbours, radial basis function,ordinary and adaptive kriging, polynomial regression, user-defined least-squares and neural network metamodelling.

New objective functions for Nexus can be defined using conditional expressions; external C, C++, Java or Python code; through Matlab or Microsoft Excel or other means, such as Nastran or Radioss (finite element method), CATIA (CAD/CAM), and (Ansys Fluent or Abaqus CAE software, etc.

Literature about Nexus and Grapheme

  • iChrome Ltd. (2011). Nexus: User Manuals - Keywords. Bristol. 
  • iChrome Ltd. (2011). Nexus: User Manuals - GUI. Bristol. 
  • A. Airoldi; S. Bertoli; L. Lanzi; M. Sirna; G. Sala (2011). "Design of a Motorcycle Composite Swing-Arm by Means of Multi-objective Optimisation". Applied Composite Materials. 
  • A. Airoldi; P. Astori; L. Lanzi; B. Cacchione (2012). "Direct search of feasible region and application to a crashworthy helicopter seat". Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (Springer) 45 (6): 875–887. 
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See also

Licensing

Windows versions of the programs, restricted to research and education purposes, are available free; however, commercial and clustered versions, running under either Linux or Windows, are not free.

References

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