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Computational Technology Reviews
ISSN 2044-8430
Computational Technology Reviews
Volume 2, 2010
Structural Optimization: 1960-2010 and Beyond
S. Hernandez

School of Civil engineering, University of Coruña, Spain

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
S. Hernandez, "Structural Optimization: 1960-2010 and Beyond", Computational Technology Reviews, vol. 2, pp. 177-222, 2010. doi:10.4203/ctr.2.8
Keywords: structural design, optimization algorithms, sensitivity analysis, shape and topology optimization, computer codes.

This paper describes the evolution of structural optimization in the past fifty years and provides some clues on the evolution of this scientific discipline in the future. The initial date selected is 1960 because it was the year of the publication of the seminal contribution by Schmit [3] that is widely considered as the starting point of the modern formulation for optimum structural design.

The text commences by describing the idea of structural optimization and how it can supersceded the conventional design process based upon trial and error methods that rely solely on engineering judgement.

The debate between the mathematical programming supporters and those in favour of the optimality criteria that took place in the 1960s and 1970s is mentioned and the evolution of both approaches in those decades is narrated. A paragraph is devoted to the sensitivity analysis studies as the mean method to produce analytical derivatives of the structural response instead of obtaining approximate values by carrying out finite diferences.

Since the 1990s a new generation of mathematical optimization approaches appeared based on mimicking biological or physical phenomena. The most significant amongst them including genetic algorithms, particle swarm optimization or simulated annealing are presented.

Structural optimization was initially applied to size minimization of skeleton or shell structures but later on the idea of shape optimization was set up as an approach to find out the best geometry for the structure [2]. This was a difficult task involving the combination of computer aided design and finite element techniques and several numerical problems had to be considered. The concept of material derivative was a very useful tool for obtaining the sensitivities of this class of problems.

Topology optimization is another approach that has evolved from a pure research topic to a quite capable industrial procedure to identify the best structure configuration for a given domain and it is discussed in the chapter, relating its improvements since the initial works in early 1990s [1].

The paper also presents the formulation of multiobjective optimization and post optimal procedures and a brief description of the main commercial software nowadays available. Finally some insights about the future of structural optimization are given to end the paper.

M.P. Bendsoe, A.R. Diaz, N. Kikuchi, "Topology and Generalizated Layout Optimization of Elastic Structures", In M.P Bendsoe, C.A. Mota Soares, (Editors), "Topology Design of Structures", Kluwer Academic Publishers, 159-206, 1993.
J.A Bennet, M.E. Botkin, "The Optimum Shape - Automated Structural Design", General Motors Symposium Series, Plenum Press, 1986.
L.A. Schmit, "Structural Design by Systematic Synthesis", Second Conference on Electronic Computation, ASCE, Pittsburg, 105-132, 1960.

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