More Solutions Than Problems

OpenSees has its share of problems: documentation is a work in progress; solid finite element analysis capabilities are not fully developed; benchmarking and verification don’t happen too often; and volunteerism drives maintenance and support. Yeah, I know, what support?

OpenSees has also generated–or, better yet, been used to generate–more than its fair share of solutions, most of which do not solve any of the aforementioned problems.

Some of the solutions are absolute brain freaks, like boundary conditions be damned or blind faith in genetic algorithms. Other solutions seem to be in search of a problem to solve, and can do more harm than good.

I get the unfortunate reality that you have to publish to get ahead. But before you click Submit, think through the answers to the following questions:

  • Who has this problem?
  • How do you know they have this problem?
  • How do they work around this problem?
  • How much time/money/liability will they save with your solution?

If you struggle with the answers to these questions, your solution does not solve a problem. As summarized in this article, which has helped me think more clearly, try to move out of the Strategy space of “publish a lot of stuff” and into the Problem, Opportunity, and Solution spaces.

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