Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 375–387 | Cite as

Structural optimization complexity: what has Moore’s law done for us?



Rapid increases in computer processing power, memory and storage space have not eliminated computational cost and time constraints on the use of structural optimization for design. This is due to the constant increase in the required fidelity (and hence complexity) of analysis models. Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that analysis models of acceptable accuracy have required at least six to eight hours of computer time (an overnight run) throughout the last thirty years. This poses a severe challenge for global optimization or reliability-based design. In this paper, we review how increases in computer power were utilized in structural optimization. We resolve problem complexity into components relating to complexity of analysis model, analysis procedure and optimization methodology. We explore the structural optimization problems that we can solve at present and conclude that we can solve problems with the highest possible complexity in only two of the three components of model, analysis procedure or optimization. We use examples of optimum design of composite structures to guide the discussion due to our familiarity with such problems. However, these are supplemented with other structural optimization examples to illustrate the universality of the message.


complexity Moore’s law optimization  


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© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.San Diego State UniversityDepartment of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering MechanicsSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.University of FloridaDepartment of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringGainesvilleUSA

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