Passively parallel regularized stokeslets

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Stokes flow, discussed by G.G. Stokes in 1851, describes many microscopic biological flow phenomena, including cilia-driven transport and flagellar motility; the need to quantify and understand these flows has motivated decades of mathematical and computational research. Regularized stokeslet methods, which have been used and refined over the past 20 years, offer significant advantages in simplicity of implementation, with a recent modification based on nearest-neighbour interpolation providing significant improvements in efficiency and accuracy. Moreover this method can be implemented with the majority of the computation taking place through built-in linear algebra, entailing that state-of-the-art hardware and software developments in the latter, in particular multicore and GPU computing, can be exploited through minimal modifications ('passive parallelism') to existing Matlab computer code. Hence, and with widely available GPU hardware, significant improvements in the efficiency of the regularized stokeslet method can be obtained. The approach is demonstrated through computational experiments on three model biological flows: undulatory propulsion of multiple Caenorhabditis elegans, simulation of progression and transport by multiple sperm in a geometrically confined region, and left-right symmetry breaking particle transport in the ventral node of the mouse embryo. In general an order-of-magnitude improvement in efficiency is observed. This development further widens the complexity of biological flow systems that are accessible without the need for extensive code development or specialist facilities. This article is part of the theme issue 'Stokes at 200 (part 2)'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190528
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2179
Early online date3 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2020


  • GPU
  • cilia
  • flagella
  • regularized stokeslets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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