As part of an introduction to the ODOP software, you should first read the Features section. This section will build on some of the concepts introduced there. Also, you may wish to refer the Terminology topic as part of reading this section.
After developing an understanding of a few conceptual issues, the ODOP program can be very simple to use. In particular, at any time after the program has been started, the state of the program represents a single, unique design. The current values of the various Independent Variables and Calculation Inputs completely specify the design. The current values of the Dependent Variables measure the performance of the design and thus describe its "state".
The user may enter new values into the entry fields for independent variables thus moving to a new design. The program automatically recalculates all of the corresponding dependent variables and thus the user immediately sees the altered state of the design.
Constraint level entry fields are used to express MAX and MIN bounds for both independent and dependent variables.
A SEARCH (Action : Search menu) is required to find appropriate values of the independent variables to produce the desired (constrained) values of all independent and dependent variables. The program does not automatically perform a SEARCH every time the user changes a constraint or FIXes a dependent variable. This allows the user to perform a single SEARCH after making several changes.
FIX checkboxes and constraint level entry fields are used before a SEARCH to establish values for dependent variables. This process effectively inverts the dependent-independent relationships of the design equations.
The design represented by the current state of the program may violate one or more constraints. If no constraints are violated, then that design is said to be in the "feasible region". With a feasible design at hand, the user can explore that feasible region. SEEK (Action : Seek menu) will "optimize" some aspect of the problem (for example, minimize the weight of material used). Another approach to seek further refinement of the design is to incrementally tighten the constraints until no further progress is available.
If the current design continues to violate one or more constraints after a SEARCH, then the user must start a process of compromise to find a workable situation. Perhaps the right move is to use a stronger material. Perhaps it is a simple matter to change the material properties. Perhaps altering one or more constraints of lesser importance will open up a feasible region so that more critical constraints can be held firm. After a search, the relative values of the various constraint violations indicate their relative leverage in the design problem. Those constraints that are violated the most, have the most influence. A small amount of motion there will have the greatest effect. The TRADE feature (Action : Trade menu) has an extrapolation algorithm that will locate the nearest feasible point with a minimal amount of effort.
ODOP is structured to permit multiple design types to be available concurrently. At the time that the program first initializes, the user can specify a design type and then select from a list of existing designs of that type in order to begin work. For each design type, a default starting point named "Startup" should always be availabe.
As of this writing, five Design Types are included with the ODOP software. The Rectangular Solid design type is a small demonstration problem based on a mathematical model of a rectangular solid (cube, box) and is intended to act as an easy to understand showcase of ODOP program capabilities. It is a design situation that most people will be familiar and comfortable with.
An explanation of how to select a design type and open a design of that type is provided in: Getting Started.