FAQ
Hello all,

It has long been my dream to create an open source 3D CAD program and
i am starting to crawl my way into the first steps. I now believe i am
ready to start this endeavor and i am currently looking for fellow
Python programmers (no matter what skill level) to get started
brainstorming this design.

I have a real good idea of the UI design and at this point i just want
to start simple and build this thing. I figure this will be a good
learning experience for myself and others and in the process i can
realize my dream. And if all this turns out to be is a learning
experience, well nobody lost.

Of course Python will limit the speed here, but at this point i want
to get a template up and running. Speed does not matter at this point,
and optimizations can come along later as i am sure a few complete re-
writes are inevitable :)

My initial start will cover a very simple user interface something
like VPython but much more usable as a CAD modeler. From the start
just a few simple primitives (faces, lines-segments) that will be the
building blocks for more complex models like (arcs, rectangles,
circles, polygons, cubes, spheres, etc..).

There will need to be mouse picking as i see this application as a
very interactive environment. Of course in the beginning all
interaction will most likely be in a command line type manner until
the functionality can be worked out.

There will need to be a hierarchy of instancing and grouping within
the model to facilitate easy transformation of entities within the
model.

I am not too worried about any sort of texturing at this point. I want
to squeeze as much speed as possible and prettiness will come in due
course. I also have no plans for layering, or multiple scenes at this
time. Simple functionality is the end game here.

Once the UI is there and the modeling work flow is worked out,
everything should be a component add-on from there.

So the main points are...

#-- Entities --#
face
line-segment

#-- Hierarchy --#
Entity (one face, or line-segment)
Group (contained of multiple entities that can be translated,
rotated, scaled as one)
Instance (component definition)

#-- Tools --#
line
rect
circle
arc
select
rotation
translation
scale
extrusion along path
measurement


So there it is. Any takers? :)

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  • Hendrik van Rooyen at Feb 10, 2009 at 7:22 am
    "rantingrick" <ra..k.. at gmail.com> wrote

    8< ----------------- dreams, goals and tentative spec -----------------

    Have you looked at Pycad ? - it started off with a similar rush
    some time ago.

    Maybe there is something there that you can use and/or salvage.

    - Hendrik
  • Mike C. Fletcher at Feb 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm
    rantingrick wrote:
    ...
    It has long been my dream to create an open source 3D CAD program and
    i am starting to crawl my way into the first steps. I now believe i am
    ready to start this endeavor and i am currently looking for fellow
    Python programmers (no matter what skill level) to get started
    brainstorming this design.
    I'm certainly willing to help with brainstorming...
    Of course Python will limit the speed here, but at this point i want
    to get a template up and running. Speed does not matter at this point,
    and optimizations can come along later as i am sure a few complete re-
    writes are inevitable :)
    Simple CAD systems without shading/texturing shouldn't have any real
    performance issues under Python. We had 3D CAD back in 1993 sufficient
    to build reasonably complex environments when I was in architecture.
    Python's only about 10x slower than C, and if you dump large C-level
    arrays into the graphics card your performance can be quite reasonable.
    If you have a visit @ every face/line for every refresh you'll spend all
    your time in the scenegraph traversal.
    There will need to be mouse picking as i see this application as a
    very interactive environment. Of course in the beginning all
    interaction will most likely be in a command line type manner until
    the functionality can be worked out.
    Mouse picking is pretty easy, you can either use simple ray-intersection
    on your bounding-box hierarchy (easiest/fastest for CAD-type structures)
    or render-pass based stuff (if you have lots of organic shapes that will
    show through each other a lot and you want to be able to click on the
    thing "peeking through" behind another thing. Both are very well
    documented and easy/fast to implement if/when your scenegraph is
    tracking bounding volumes.
    There will need to be a hierarchy of instancing and grouping within
    the model to facilitate easy transformation of entities within the
    model.
    Transform and Group nodes are definitely a good idea, as are "USE" nodes.
    I am not too worried about any sort of texturing at this point. I want
    to squeeze as much speed as possible and prettiness will come in due
    course. I also have no plans for layering, or multiple scenes at this
    time. Simple functionality is the end game here.
    Fair enough.
    #-- Entities --#
    face
    line-segment
    That's pretty low-level. You may want to work with "meshes" or the
    like, so that you select the mesh, then modify the faces/vertices/edges
    (a-la 3DSMax/Maya), particularly where you want faces to share
    coordinates. Just a thought.
    #-- Hierarchy --#
    Entity (one face, or line-segment)
    Again, seems like you'd want something a little less soup-of-lines-ish,
    but then that's a 3D Modeler bias, rather than a CAD bias (where often
    it really is just a soup of lines).
    Group (contained of multiple entities that can be translated,
    rotated, scaled as one)
    Transform node.
    Instance (component definition)
    Node with DEF + USE's node instance. Or, if you mean a reusable,
    parameterized node, a PROTO definition and PROTO-using nodes.
    #-- Tools --#
    line
    rect
    circle
    arc
    You'll want mechanisms to define the current coordinate system as well
    (think AutoCAD "UCS") so that you can precisely align the work you are
    doing without needing to calculate cos/sin/tan for everything. That is,
    your rotation/translation/scale should allow you to draw *within* the
    resulting Transform. You'll likely also want to be able to translate
    objects to/from Transform spaces (i.e. reparent without moving).

    Also (from my many-year-old recollection of doing CAD in architecture):

    * tan (when you want to draw lines tangential to a circle/arc and
    then trim)
    * chamfer/fillet (easy to code and pretty darn useful for a lot of
    detail drawings)
    * copy
    * align
    * delete/erase
    * hide/show hidden edges
    * mirror/mirror3d (used it all the time)
    * text (pretty important for CAD work)
    * snap control (critically important IMO)
    * polyline/polygon (or tools to combine lines/arcs into polygons and
    close the result for e.g. extrusion)
    * splines/nurbs or other high-order surfaces (eventually)
    * boolean operators (eventually, use a library for this unless you
    really want to learn, and even then, do it yourself and then use a
    library)
    select
    Critical to get that right to make it usable.
    rotation
    translation
    scale
    I'd suggest a Maya-like control for this as far as the GUI goes, put
    snaps on it, but make a single widget that lets you
    rotate/translate/scale. You'll also want such things as
    scale-this-line-to-be-this-size rescales (scale, pick two points, pick
    two other points, scale is the relative length of the two points)...
    extrusion along path
    Available in GLE extensions (nodes available too). Also want "revolve"
    (extrude around a path, which may be a point). Depending on your model,
    you may want to allow for converting extrusions to faces in order to
    allow tweaking the resulting extrusion. You'll want/need a UI to "open"
    the extrusion and change the backbone and sweep shapes.
    measurement
    measurement == dimensioning (dim*)? Or just on-screen measurement
    (dist). Both are useful.
    So there it is. Any takers? :)
    I can't even begin to commit any real time to another project (I barely
    have time to work on the ones I already have), but if you need feedback,
    feel free to email me. Most of the graphics stuff sounds like stuff you
    could build on top of OpenGLContext or COIN or any of the generic
    scenegraph libraries. They aren't really CAD-focused, but they've
    already got the ability to draw the things you're wanting to work on,
    and have the Transforms and similar support to make the coding a
    reasonable task. However, they're closer to a Maya/3DSMax model than
    AutoCAD, so maybe you'll decide you want to go your own way.

    You may want to check out PythonCAD as well, which IIRC does 2D-only CAD.

    Anyway, hope this was some help. Good luck,
    Mike

    --
    ________________________________________________
    Mike C. Fletcher
    Designer, VR Plumber, Coder
    http://www.vrplumber.com
    http://blog.vrplumber.com
  • Greg at Feb 12, 2009 at 8:30 am

    rantingrick wrote:

    It has long been my dream to create an open source 3D CAD program and

    I have a real good idea of the UI design
    Have you seen Sketchup?

    http://sketchup.google.com/

    It has an amazingly intuitive user interface, much better
    than any other 3D modeller I've seen. Anyone thinking of
    designing a 3D app would do well to study it closely, IMO.

    Something with a Sketchup-like UI but designed for serious
    CAD work would be an incredibly good thing to have.

    In any case, your project sounds interesting, and I'll
    be happy to discuss ideas if you want.

    --
    Greg
  • Josh Dukes at Feb 17, 2009 at 8:47 pm
    What kind of cad are you focused on? Mechanical cad, architecutal cad,
    or something else? If you're interested there have been some
    experiments with blender
    http://projects.blender.org/projects/blendercad/
    http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?te559

    Unfortunately I don't think anything ever came out of those. There's also a 2d cad called pythoncad,
    http://www.pythoncad.org/
    There's also Salome, which seems to have a python interface. Basically though, there isn't anything good right now but I'd love to see this.

    On Thu, 12 Feb 2009 21:30:49 +1300
    greg wrote:
    rantingrick wrote:
    It has long been my dream to create an open source 3D CAD program
    and

    I have a real good idea of the UI design
    Have you seen Sketchup?

    http://sketchup.google.com/

    It has an amazingly intuitive user interface, much better
    than any other 3D modeller I've seen. Anyone thinking of
    designing a 3D app would do well to study it closely, IMO.

    Something with a Sketchup-like UI but designed for serious
    CAD work would be an incredibly good thing to have.

    In any case, your project sounds interesting, and I'll
    be happy to discuss ideas if you want.

    --

    Josh Dukes
    MicroVu IT Department
  • R at Feb 18, 2009 at 9:02 am
    Hello Josh,
    Blender is a lost cause. It is a powerful app but the UI is horrible.
    Even the Blender folks admit only a complete rewrite could solve the
    major flaws that plague the design. So maybe i could salvage some code
    but for what i have in mind, Blender will look like a piece of
    software from the middle ages. And i am absolutly only looking to do
    this in 3D, 2D is boring.

    So, yes, i have looked at both the applications you offer.

    Thanks
  • Josh Dukes at Feb 18, 2009 at 8:27 pm
    You might also want to look in to open cascade. It supports a bunch of
    standard 3d model formats (stl, iges, step) and has python bindings.
    Salome is based on open cascade. http://www.pythonocc.org/ However, I'm
    not entirely clear on the license for this so that might be an issue. I
    know the Debian lawyers had some problems with Salome because it
    compiled against open cascade. I believe if you made open cascade an
    optional run-time dependency it could still be a valid gpl app.

    It's also important to keep in mind that what most people think of as
    cad/cam is really multiple things that can be broken up into modules
    (cad/cam/fea). Those can also be broken up into modules (fea can be
    broken into meshing, pre-processing, analysis, and post-processing). It
    seems like attacking things this way might be best. If you're really
    serious about this (there are lots of failed Linux cad packages) I'd
    suggest setting up a project on sourceforge and get a mailing list.
    Post a link to the mailing list and I'll join. I can probably find some
    other mailing lists that you should try to recruit from, but having a
    sourceforge page and a mailing list really helps your legitimacy.

    Another interesting project is FreeCAD, which is written in C++ but
    compiled against python,
    http://juergen-riegel.net/FreeCAD/Docu/index.php?title=Main_Page might
    be worth looking at.

    I look forward to joining your mailing list.

    On Wed, 18 Feb 2009 01:02:22 -0800 (PST)
    r wrote:
    Hello Josh,
    Blender is a lost cause. It is a powerful app but the UI is horrible.
    Even the Blender folks admit only a complete rewrite could solve the
    major flaws that plague the design. So maybe i could salvage some code
    but for what i have in mind, Blender will look like a piece of
    software from the middle ages. And i am absolutly only looking to do
    this in 3D, 2D is boring.

    So, yes, i have looked at both the applications you offer.

    Thanks
    --
    http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-list

    --

    Josh Dukes
    MicroVu IT Department
  • Jelle feringa at Mar 5, 2009 at 8:15 am
    Hi Josh,
    http://www.pythonocc.org/ However, I'm
    not entirely clear on the license for this so that might be an issue.
    We're using a French license for the moment, but will move to something more
    standard soon. PythonOCC ( the current SVN version ) wraps 85% of the
    OpenCASCADE kernel. Consider that complete, since there are a bunch of
    modules are obsolete ( WOK, drawing ).

    (Binaries are supplied for win32, linux & osx.)

    We're starting to work on a high level API, so this is a wonderful moment to
    jump on.


    -jelle
  • Wesley Brooks at Mar 6, 2009 at 12:27 pm
    Greetings All,

    I've been watching this thread since it kicked off with interest.

    I'd be interested in being kept in the loop with the development of this
    project as I have made some very simple CAD like tools for Layer
    Manufacturing (also known as Rapid Prototyping) machines in the past and
    would be interested in working on plug-ins to provide output from the CAD
    software direct to these machines. I also have contacts who may be
    interested in doing a similar thing for CNC cutting path generation.

    While this (at least my contribution) won't have a huge market it would be
    quite a marketing point to be able to go straight through from concept
    design through to real functional parts. And might at a later date be a
    feature to get a larger company interested in using the software in house.

    While I appreciate it is early days I would suggest the following gets
    consideration from the outset:

    Inclusion of the ability to handle plug-ins, so for example connections to
    existing version control and CFD packages can be managed.
    Links to a standard version control system from the box (perhaps
    subversion?)
    VNC style remote control of other seats of the same software so parts can be
    discussed with ease over the phone etc.
    Facility to attach annotations and notes to either the part of features on
    the part.
    Parametric design features such as hole size etc can be changed at any time.
    Possible later inclusion of databases of standard size components such as
    gears, bearings.... At some point perhaps it would be possible for wizzard
    like features to set up tolerances for shaft holes, press-fits for bearings
    etc.

    Cheers,

    Wesley.



    2009/3/5 jelle feringa <jelleferinga at gmail.com>
    Hi Josh,
    http://www.pythonocc.org/ However, I'm
    not entirely clear on the license for this so that might be an issue.
    We're using a French license for the moment, but will move to something
    more
    standard soon. PythonOCC ( the current SVN version ) wraps 85% of the
    OpenCASCADE kernel. Consider that complete, since there are a bunch of
    modules are obsolete ( WOK, drawing ).

    (Binaries are supplied for win32, linux & osx.)

    We're starting to work on a high level API, so this is a wonderful moment
    to
    jump on.


    -jelle

    --
    http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-list
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  • Josh Dukes at Mar 17, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    VNC style remote control of other seats of the same software so parts
    can be discussed with ease over the phone etc.
    It seems like project verse would be really cool to have for this.
    http://verse.blender.org/

    --

    Josh Dukes
    MicroVu IT Department
  • Josh Dukes at Mar 17, 2009 at 6:08 pm
    The real problem jelle is the license of OpenCASCADE. My understanding
    is that it's not recognized as "free" by debian because of it's
    description.

    The phrase "You are also obliged to send your modifications of the
    original source code (if you have made any) to the Initial Developer
    (i.e. Open CASCADE S.A.S.)." describes a nonfree license, even though
    the actual license, according to debian legal, is actually free and
    does not specify this requirement.

    If you are wrapping OpenCASCADE code, then you are also bound by this
    license. Since this license, if it were as described (which it doesn't
    appear to be), would not be compatable with GPL, it wouldn't be possible
    to write something in PythonOCC and GPL it. If this phrase could be
    removed then OCC could be included in debian free and this would
    actually solve a lot of other problems for free cad software.

    Debian's legal department still wanted to avoid classifying this as
    free because of the qualifying description from upstream. It seems
    that it's debian's general policy to avoid legal conflicts with
    upstream developers, even if those developers don't appear to have any
    legal standing.

    On Thu, 5 Mar 2009 08:15:44 +0000 (UTC)
    jelle feringa wrote:
    Hi Josh,
    http://www.pythonocc.org/ However, I'm
    not entirely clear on the license for this so that might be an
    issue.
    We're using a French license for the moment, but will move to
    something more standard soon. PythonOCC ( the current SVN version )
    wraps 85% of the OpenCASCADE kernel. Consider that complete, since
    there are a bunch of modules are obsolete ( WOK, drawing ).

    (Binaries are supplied for win32, linux & osx.)

    We're starting to work on a high level API, so this is a wonderful
    moment to jump on.


    -jelle

    --
    http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-list

    --

    Josh Dukes
    MicroVu IT Department
  • Lie at Feb 19, 2009 at 8:29 am

    On Feb 18, 8:02?pm, r wrote:
    Hello Josh,
    Blender is a lost cause. It is a powerful app but the UI is horrible.
    Even the Blender folks admit only a complete rewrite could solve the
    major flaws that plague the design<CITATION NEEDED>. So maybe i could salvage some code
    but for what i have in mind, Blender will look like a piece of
    software from the middle ages. And i am absolutly only looking to do
    this in 3D, 2D is boring.
    Blender's UI is designed for effective and efficient 3D workflow, not
    for low learning curve.
  • R at Feb 19, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    On Feb 19, 2:29?am, Lie wrote:
    On Feb 18, 8:02?pm, r wrote:
    Blender's UI is designed for effective and efficient 3D workflow, not
    for low learning curve.
    And that will be it's downfall!

    I know what what Blenders UI is designed for. However not too many
    people get religious about learning a UI, which is the only way you
    will ever learn Blenders UI. This is why although Blender has a cult
    following, it will never grow into a tool that the mainstream world
    knows about, or for that matter cares about.

    I have been using Blender on and off for almost a year and i still
    cannot get comfortable with the UI. For instance adding a material to
    a object involves multiple steps between multiple windows (WHAT!). Go
    take a look at SketchUp's UI and you will see how the future will
    look. Even 3DS or Maya is easier to learn that Blender.
  • Dotan Cohen at Feb 20, 2009 at 9:09 pm
    Even 3DS or Maya is easier to learn that Blender.
    Notepad is easier to learn that VI. Not a good program does simple make.

    --
    Dotan Cohen

    http://what-is-what.com
    http://gibberish.co.il

    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?
    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-??-?-?
    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?
    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?
    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?
  • R at Feb 24, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    On Feb 20, 3:09?pm, Dotan Cohen wrote:
    Even 3DS or Maya is easier to learn that Blender.
    Notepad is easier to learn that VI. Not a good program does simple make.
    And not a good program does complex make either Yoda.

    Assembly language is very powerful and allows full control down to the
    processor level. With your logic all programs would be written in
    assembly. Only problem is with that logic we would be 30 years behind
    in development of software at this time. Abstraction is paramount to
    advancement. With abstraction now you can focus on the problem at hand
    instead of miles of steps just to get to the problem at hand. Human
    beings are not hardware, we need high levels of abstraction so we can
    do what we do best... dream, image, and create.
  • Geremy condra at Feb 24, 2009 at 9:16 pm
    I'm interested. If you are still serious about doing this in two months,
    send me an email. If you have
    something put together at that point we can talk about its future. Sound
    fair?

    Geremy Condra
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  • Dotan Cohen at Feb 18, 2009 at 1:10 am

    It has long been my dream to create an open source 3D CAD program and
    i am starting to crawl my way into the first steps.
    If you are really serious, then I am waiting for a Linux-compatible
    Solidworks replacement. That means that I can work and collaborate
    with other Solidworks users in Solidworks' native format, with no
    excuses to the other engineers.

    If you come up with such a best, say in the next three years, then I
    will donate to your cause three times the cost of a Solidworks license
    at that time. There are literally hundreds of other engineers that
    would do the same as I would do. When you go for VC keep that in mind.

    --
    Dotan Cohen

    http://what-is-what.com
    http://gibberish.co.il

    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?
    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-??-?-?
    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?
    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?-?
    ?-?-?-?-?-?-?

    From http Wed Feb 18 02:36:07 2009
    From: http (Paul Rubin)
    Date: 17 Feb 2009 17:36:07 -0800
    Subject: "Maximum recursion depth exceeded"...why?
    References: <847153c1-579e-4e4f-a21d-dcf106f15636@r41g2000yqm.googlegroups.com>
    <e8727ace-b202-4c69-8b4c-cfcf772291de@f20g2000yqg.googlegroups.com>
    Message-ID: <7xr61w8r20.fsf@ruckus.brouhaha.com>

    Thomas Allen <thomasmallen at gmail.com> writes:
    attempting. Basically, I'm transforming a live site to a local one and
    Something wrong with wget -R ?
  • R at Feb 18, 2009 at 9:10 am
    Yes i want linux, windows, and mac support. I think you are good for a
    few years though :). Getting something up and working is the easy
    part. Adding all the features that are required to compete with
    something the likes of SolidWorks or ACAD takes time.

    One way or another i am going to build this, whether or not it takes
    off and gets to a professional level -- only time will tell. I know
    one thing for sure the need is there, the product is not.
  • Zamnedix at Feb 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    On Feb 9, 12:58?pm, rantingrick wrote:
    Hello all,

    It has long been my dream to create an open source 3D CAD program and
    i am starting to crawl my way into the first steps. I now believe i am
    ready to start this endeavor and i am currently looking for fellow
    Python programmers (no matter what skill level) to get started
    brainstorming this design.

    I have a real good idea of the UI design and at this point i just want
    to start simple and build this thing. I figure this will be a good
    learning experience for myself and others and in the process i can
    realize my dream. And if all this turns out to be is a learning
    experience, well nobody lost.

    Of course Python will limit the speed here, but at this point i want
    to get a template up and running. Speed does not matter at this point,
    and optimizations can come along later as i am sure a few complete re-
    writes are inevitable :)

    My initial start will cover a very simple user interface something
    like VPython but much more usable as a CAD modeler. From the start
    just a few simple primitives (faces, lines-segments) that will be the
    building blocks for more complex models like (arcs, rectangles,
    circles, polygons, cubes, spheres, etc..).

    There will need to be mouse picking as i see this application as a
    very interactive environment. Of course in the beginning all
    interaction will most likely be in a command line type manner until
    the functionality can be worked out.

    There will need to be a hierarchy of instancing and grouping within
    the model to facilitate easy transformation of entities within the
    model.

    I am not too worried about any sort of texturing at this point. I want
    to squeeze as much speed as possible and prettiness will come in due
    course. I also have no plans for layering, or multiple scenes at this
    time. Simple functionality is the end game here.

    Once the UI is there and the modeling work flow is worked out,
    everything should be a component add-on from there.

    So the main points are...

    #-- Entities --#
    ?face
    ?line-segment

    #-- Hierarchy --#
    ?Entity (one face, or line-segment)
    ?Group (contained of multiple entities that can be translated,
    rotated, scaled as one)
    ?Instance (component definition)

    #-- Tools --#
    ?line
    ?rect
    ?circle
    ?arc
    ?select
    ?rotation
    ?translation
    ?scale
    ?extrusion along path
    ?measurement

    So there it is. Any takers? :)
    I realize this isn't necessarily CAD, but...
    http://www.blender.org/
  • Dazaster59 at Mar 3, 2009 at 6:19 pm
    I am interested in the possibilities of a CAD system built on top of a
    computer algebra system. I would be willing to contribute
    implementations of your "entities" (and associated transforms) using
    sympy, using the current 2d geometry module as a starting point. For
    adequate performance it would soon need to be ported to sympy-core or
    another CAS.

    I'm interested in this because I like:
    - the accuracy that is possible with algebraic expressions even after
    cumulative transforms (eg. rotations)
    - the potential for elegant, generic implementations of geometric
    operations (eg. finding intersections)
    - the possibilities for analysing cumulative tolerancing effects
    - the benefits for simulation and analysis of physics problems (eg.
    optical systems)

    What do you think?

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