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Dimensional Analysis and Modeling

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In this chapter, we first review the concepts of dimensions and units. We then review the fundamental principle of dimensional homogeneity, and show how it is applied to equations in order to nondimensionalize them and to identify dimensionless groups. We discuss the concept of similarity between a model and a prototype. We also describe a powerful tool for engineers and scientists called dimensional analysis, in which the combination of dimensional variables, nondimensional variables, and dimensional constants into nondimensional parameters reduces the number of necessary independent parameters in a problem. We present a step-by-step method for obtaining these nondimensional parameters, called the method of repeating variables, which is based solely on the dimensions of the variables and constants. Finally, we apply this technique to several practical problems to illustrate both its utility and its limitations.

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