Verification of computational models of cardiac electro-physiology

The project corresponds to the paper: Pras Pathmanathan and Richard A. Gray, Verification of computational models of cardiac electro-physiology, accepted for publication in International Journal for Numerical Methods in Bioengineering.

Walk-throughs of the main tests are given below. The entire project, which includes all source files, results files and matlab scripts, can be viewed at projects/CardiacEpVerification,

New users of Chaste who wish to install Chaste and run this project, see GettingStarted and ChasteGuides.

Testing against exact solutions

This test compares the results of the cardiac electro-physiology solver in Chaste on model problems with exact solutions, for monodomain, bidomain and bidomain-with-bath, and in 1D, 2D and 3D. See EpAgainstExactSolutions. A results file containing the raw results is included in the project (link above).

1D conduction velocity

This test computes the conduction velocity in a 1D monodomain simulation using different mesh resolutions. A matlab script applies Richardson extrapolation to the results. See ConductionVelocityCaseStudy. A results file containing the raw results is included in the project (link above), as is the matlab script.

Reentry on a 3D rabbit geometry

The test uses an S1-S2 protocol to induce reentry on a rabbit geometry, and is set up to run on the full-resolution Oxford rabbit heart, as well as medium and coarse resolution versions of the same geometry. See ReentryOnRabbitMesh.

To run this test you will need to download the meshes and provide their locations. The coarse mesh is already in the Chaste repository, so nothing needs to be done for this. Also, it is possible run the coarse mesh simulation on a normal desktop or laptop. The fine mesh is available for download at the main download page (OxfordRabbitHeart_binary.tgz). Simulations using this mesh will probably require high-performance computing resources (the simulation for the paper on this mesh took 74 minutes using 256 processes). The medium and fine resolution meshes are both contained in the public data repository -- see

Note: We have recently observed that these simulations can, when run on the same mesh but using different configurations (e.g. number of processes), look identical for (say) 500ms, but then begin to differ -- presumably an example of tiny differences in a chaotic system building up to large differences. This should be taken into account if you run any of the simulations and then compare with the figures in the paper. It may be possible to force these divergences to occur later by using much smaller tolerances; more investigation is required. These observations does not affect the conclusions of Section 3.2 in the paper, that anatomical detail (fine vs medium mesh) leads to large differences in activation patterns (much earlier than 500ms) and overall that calculation verification for simulations involving such arrhythmic activity is extremely difficult. When using such simulations it will be important to choose robust QOIs for which numerical error can be meaningfully estimated. It is however a major problem that floating point differences can add up to qualitative differences in arrhythmic simulations in less than 1s of simulation time.

Robert Blake (Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University) observed similar phenomena in simulations of arrhythmia using a different solver, and performed a thorough investigation of his simulations and provided us with some highly useful information. The number of processes was observed to affect the large-time solution, and he determined that the cause was at the MPI level, with network latency affecting some floating point calculations. MPI_Allreduce for example was affected by network latency. (For a discussion of MPI reproducibility see He determined however that the biggest factor was very small differences in the assembled system matrix (specifically, the order messages are received in the PETSc methods MatAssemblyBegin and MatAssemblyEnd affecting the final matrix), which eventually led to a differences in solution. He points out that in the latest version of PETSc (version 3.4), there is a flag matstash_reproduce that forces such messages to be received in a predictable order, and may help reduce floating point differences and improve reproducibility. (Command line usage: -matstash_reproduce 1).

The extent to which his observations apply to our findings, and the extent to which matstash_reproduce can fix these issues, needs further investigation.

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Last modified 10 years ago Last modified on Jan 9, 2014, 7:18:41 PM