Subject Area

Mechanical Engineering


Classification of flow fields involving strong vortices such as those from bluff body wakes and animal locomotion can provide important insight to their hydrodynamic behavior. Previous work has successfully classified 2D flow fields based on critical points of the velocity field and the structure of an associated weighted graph using the critical points as vertices. The present work focuses on extension of this approach to 3D flows. To this end, we have used the Gauss-Bonnet theorem to find critical points and their indices in the 3D velocity vector field, which functions similarly to the Poincare-Bendixon theorem in 2D flow fields. The approach utilizes an initial search for critical points based on local flow field direction, and the Gauss-Bonnet theorem is used to refine the location of critical points by dividing the volume integral form of the Gauss-Bonnet theorem into smaller regions. The developed method is cable of locating critical points at sub-grid level precision, which is a key factor for locating critical points and determining their associated eigenvalues on coarse grids. To verify this approach, we have applied this method on sample flow fields generated from potential flow theory and numerical methods.

Degree Date

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering


Prof. Paul S. Krueger

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License