The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 94 (2016) > Issue 3 > An introduction to engineering optimisation methods
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An introduction to engineering optimisation methods

Some engineering problems are simple, like linear analysis; others are difficult, like non-linear analysis; but there is a third group: those that are complex. Complex problems are those where there are many possible answers that have to be explored and assessed before a decision is made as to which is the best one.

This article will discuss the principal concepts of design optimisation, then look at the various suitable techniques and make suggestions as to where they might be used by structural engineers. These methods include quasi-Newton, gradient, simulated annealing, Monte Carlo, genetic algorithms, particle swarms, neural networks, form-finding, and evolutionary topology optimisation.

While the article will not be exhaustive (which would take several books), it will provide sufficient examples and typical formulas so that those interested can start to explore this fascinating subject.

Author(s): P. Debney (Arup-Oasys)