# Triangle Mesh Generator GUI and CLI Integration with FEATool

# FEATool-Triangle Mesh Generator Integration

The fast and efficient 2D mesh and grid generator, *Triangle*, by
J.R. Shewchuk’s is fully integrated with FEATool Multiphysics
[1][2][3]. Both MATLAB command line interface (CLI)
usage is supported with the gridgen function,
as well as FEATool GUI usage by selecting the *Triangle* in the *Grid
Generation Settings* dialog box.

Advantages of using *Triangle* compared to the built-in grid
generation function is firstly the overall speed, as it is one of the
fastest 2D unstructured mesh generators available (completely written
in *C* code). Moreover, *Triangle* features better support for
specifying the grid size in different subdomains and geometry regions,
as well as on boundaries, allowing for greater flexibility and higher
quality grids adapted to specific problems and geometries.

To evaluate the performance of *Triangle* and compare it to the
built-in grid generator a simple benchmark test case
was employed. The test case consisted of generating a uniform mesh for
a unit circle with average grid sizes *hmax =
[0.1 0.05 0.025 0.0125 0.00625]*. The normalized timings for using
*gridgen* with the default algorithm

```
tic
geom.objects = { gobj_circle() };
grid = gridgen( geom, 'hmax', hmax );
t = toc
```

The time to mesh a unit circle in MATLAB and Octave with *DistMesh*,
as well as with *Triangle* is shown in the figure below.

From the results one can see that for the finest grid (*hmax =
0.00625*, consisting of approximately 185000 triangles) required 10
seconds for Triangle, 1 minute for *DistMesh* and MATLAB, and close to
7 minutes for *DistMesh* and Octave (suffering from lack of
Just-In-Time JIT compilation). Also note that the *Triangle* timings
also includes time taken for IO export and import, that is the total
time the user might typically see. *Triangle* can clearly offer
magnitudes of speed improvements for basic two-dimensional
unstructured grid generation.

## Installation

First please ensure that the latest version of FEATool Multiphysics is
installed. If *Triangle* is selected as grid generation algorithm but
not found, FEATool will automatically try to download, (compile), and
install the mesh generator binary into the *userpath/.featool* folder.

Should the *Triangle* installation or compilation fail, please
manually download, compile, and install *Triangle* from the original
source reference [1].

## GUI Usage

Once installed, the *Grid Generation Settings* dialog box will feature
a *Triangle* selection option from the **Grid Generation Algorithm**
drop-down box. Moreover, the following options also apply to the
*Triangle* mesh generation algorithm

The

**Subdomain Grid Size**,*hmax*, indicates the target grid cell diameter, and can either be a single scalar prescribing the grid size for the entire geometry, or a space separated string of numbers (array) where the*hmax*values correspond to the generated subdomains.**Boundary Grid Size**,*hmaxb*, is analogous to*hmax*but related to boundaries (edges).*hmaxb*can consist of a single scalar applicable to all boundaries, for example`0.1`

prescribing a mean cell edge length of

*0.1*on every boundary.*hmaxb*can also be a numeric array with entries corresponding to individual boundaries, for example`[ 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 ]`

specifying cell edge length

*0.1*for boundary 1,*0.2*for boundary 2 etc. Lastly,*hmaxb*can also be given as a cell array where each entry and boundary can be prescribed a single value for the mean cell edge size or a numeric array of grid point distributions (spanning 0 to 1) along the boundary. For example`{ 0.1 [0 0.1 0.5 1] 0.3 [1 0.8 0.2 0] }`

where here boundaries 1 and 3 are prescribed mean edge lengths

*0.1*and*0.3*, respectively. Boundary 2 is assigned nodes at parametrized positions*0*,*0.1*,*0.5*, and*1*while boundary 4 the nodes are assigned in reverse.The

**Quality**slider (which corresponds to the*Triangle**q*parameter, default 28 degrees) sets a minimum target angle (values less than 33 are generally acceptable, while higher values might prevent*Triangle*convergence).The

**Smoothing**parameter specifies the number of post grid smoothing steps to perform (default 3).

The **Generate** grid button effectively calls the
gridgen function from the GUI with the
`‘gridgen’`

`‘triangle’`

property/value pair as
input arguments, which in turn makes a system call to the *Triangle*
binary, after which the new grid is automatically imported and
displayed.

## CLI Usage

On the MATLAB command line the
gridgen function is used to
call *Triangle* to generate an unstructured 2D triangular grid. The
following syntax is used

```
grid = gridgen( SIN, VARARGIN, 'gridgen', 'triangle' )
```

where SIN is a valid FEATool fea problem struct or cell array of geometry objects. gridgen also accepts the following property/value pairs (VARARGIN).

```
Property Value/{Default} Description
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
hmax scal/arr {0.1} Target grid size for geometry/subdomains
hmaxb scal/arr {[]} Target grid size for boundary edges
q scalar {28} Minimum target angle (quality)
nsm scalar {3} Number of (post) grid smoothing steps
intb logical {false} Keep internal boundaries
syscmd string {'default'} Triangle system call command (default
'triangle -I -q%f -j -e -a -A %s.poly')
compcmd string {'default'} Triangle unix/linux compilation command
('cc -O triangle.c -lm -o triangle')
fname string {'fea_tri_UID'} Triangle imp/exp file name (root)
fdir string {tempdir} Directory to write help files
clean boolean {true} Delete (clean) Triangle help files
instdir string {userpath/.featool} Triangle installation directory
```

As also discussed above, among the properties *hmax* indicates target
grid cell diameters, and is either a numeric scalar valid for the
entire geometry or an array with *hmax* values corresponding to the
subdomains. *hmaxb* is similar to *hmax* but a numeric array with a
*hmaxb* values corresponding to the boundaries (including internal
boundaries). *q* (default 28 degrees) specifies a minimum target grid
size (values less than 33 are generally acceptable, while higher
values might prevent convergence). *nsm* (default 0) the number of
gridsmooth smoothing steps to perform. More
detailed information regarding the mesh generation options can be
found in the documentation for *Triangle* [1].

For more information about CLI usage access the function help by entering

```
>> help gridgen
```

### Grid Generation Examples

Unit square with uniform global grid size set to

*0.1*`grid = gridgen( {gobj_rectangle()}, 'hmax', 0.1, 'gridgen', 'triangle' ); plotgrid( grid )`

Unit square with fine grid along the top boundary.

`grid = gridgen( {gobj_rectangle()}, 'hmax', 0.5, ... 'hmaxb', [0.5 0.5 0.01 0.5], 'gridgen', 'triangle' ); plotgrid( grid )`

Domain with fine grid along curved boundaries (number 5 and 6)

`geom.objects = {gobj_rectangle() gobj_circle([0 0],.6) gobj_circle([1 1],.3,'C2')}; geom = geom_apply_formula( geom, 'R1-C1-C2' ); grid = gridgen( geom, 'hmax', .1, 'hmaxb', [.1 .1 .1 .1 .01 .01], ... 'gridgen', 'triangle' ); plotgrid( grid )`

Two connected subdomains with refined grid along the shared boundary (9)

`geom.objects = { gobj_rectangle(-2e-3,0,-8e-3,8e-3), ... gobj_polygon([0 -6e-3;2e-3 -5e-3;2e-3 4e-3;0 6e-3]) }; hmax = 5e-4; hmaxb = hmax*ones(1,9); hmaxb(9) = hmax/5; grid = gridgen( geom, 'hmax', hmax, 'hmaxb', hmaxb, 'gridgen', 'triangle' ); plotgrid( grid )`

Component with fine grid on subdomains 2 and 3, and curved boundaries

`r1 = gobj_rectangle( 0, 0.11, 0, 0.12, 'R1' ); c1 = gobj_circle( [ 0.065 0 ], 0.015, 'C1' ); c2 = gobj_circle( [ 0.11 0.12 ], 0.035, 'C2' ); c3 = gobj_circle( [ 0 0.06 ], 0.025, 'C3' ); r2 = gobj_rectangle( 0.065, 0.16, 0.05, 0.07, 'R2' ); c4 = gobj_circle( [ 0.065 0.06 ], 0.01, 'C4' ); geom.objects = { r1 c1 c2 c3 r2 c4 }; geom = geom_apply_formula( geom, 'R1-C1-C2-C3' ); geom = geom_apply_formula( geom, 'R2+C4' ); hmax = [0.0015 0.02 0.0015]; hmaxb = 0.02*ones(1,34); hmaxb([8:12]) = 0.0025; grid = gridgen( geom, 'hmax', hmax, 'hmaxb', hmaxb, 'gridgen', 'triangle' ); plotgrid( grid )`

Complex geometry with several holes and subdomains

`w = 10e-4; L = 3*w; H = 5*w; p1 = gobj_polygon( [w/10 0;L 0;L H-H/3;L H;0 H;0 H/3], 'P1' ); r1 = gobj_rectangle( (L-w/4)/2, (L+w/4)/2, -sqrt(eps), H, 'R1' ); c1 = gobj_circle( [2*w/3 3*w], w/3, 'C1' ); c2 = gobj_circle( [2*w/3 2*w], w/3, 'C2' ); c3 = gobj_circle( [2*w/3 1*w], w/3, 'C3' ); c4 = gobj_circle( [L-w/2 4.5*w], w/8, 'C4' ); c5 = gobj_circle( [L-w 4.5*w], w/8, 'C5' ); c6 = gobj_circle( [L-w/2 4*w], w/8, 'C6' ); c7 = gobj_circle( [L-w 4*w], w/8, 'C7' ); c8 = gobj_circle( [L-w/2 3.5*w], w/8, 'C8' ); c9 = gobj_circle( [L-w 3.5*w], w/8, 'C9' ); c10 = gobj_circle( [L-w/2 3*w], w/8, 'C10' ); c11 = gobj_circle( [L-w 3*w], w/8, 'C11' ); geom.objects = { p1 r1 c1 c2 c3 c4 c5 c6 c7 c8 c9 c10 c11 }; geom = geom_apply_formula( geom, 'P1-C1-C2-C3-C4-C5-C6-C7-C8-C9-C10-C11' ); hmaxb = w/5*ones(1,59); hmaxb([5 9]) = w/50; grid = gridgen_triangle( geom, 'hmax', w./[5 20 5], 'hmaxb', hmaxb, 'gridgen', 'triangle' ); plotgrid( grid )`

## Usage Notes

For geometries with multiple and overlapping geometry objects the
actual subdomain numbering will generally not correspond to the
geometry object numbering (two intersecting geometry objects will for
example create three or more subdomains and several internal
boundaries). In this case the actual subdomain and boundary numbering
for vector valued *hmax* and *hmaxb* arrays can easiest be visualized
and determined by first creating a coarse grid and switching to
*Equation/Subdomain* and *Boundary* modes, respectively.

Furthermore, in contrast to the standard *gridgen* function,
_gridgen*triangle* can identify and include internal boundaries (with
the *intb* flag on). These internal boundaries can also be subject to
boundary conditions, or alternatively should be assigned
neutral/symmetry (homogeneous zero Neumann) boundary conditions if
they are to be considered non-active boundaries (acting as if they
were not present and ignored).

The temporary *Triangle* generated *poly* and *tri* data files can be
found in the specified *fdir* directory (default given by the MATLAB
*tempdir* function).

Lastly, even if a specific boundary node distribution has been
prescribed through the cell array *hmaxb* parameter, *Triangle* may
insert additional nodes if necessary in order to achieve and
acceptable grid quality (depending on the prescribed *q* parameter).

## References

[1] The Triangle Mesh Generator home page (https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~quake/triangle.html).

[2] J.R. Shewchuk, Triangle: Engineering a 2D Quality Mesh Generator and Delaunay Triangulator, in Applied Computational Geometry: Towards Geometric Engineering (Ming C. Lin and Dinesh Manocha, editors), volume 1148 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 203-222, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, May 1996. (From the First ACM Workshop on Applied Computational Geometry).

[3] J.R. Shewchuk, Delaunay Refinement Algorithms for Triangular Mesh Generation, Computational Geometry: Theory and Applications 22(1-3):21-74, May 2002.