Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 695–715 | Cite as

Managing variable-dimension structural optimization problems using generative algorithms

  • Ashish Khetan
  • Danny J. Lohan
  • James T. AllisonEmail author


This article introduces a novel design abstraction concept for efficient truss topology and geometry optimization. The core advancement introduced here is to represent truss topology and geometry using rules of generative algorithms, and to operate on generative algorithm rules using a genetic algorithm rather than directly on the design description. This indirect design representation supports efficient exploration of variable and high-dimension design topologies. Generative design strategies are also independent of any kind of ground structure, thus avoiding the inherent limitations of ground structure approaches that may hinder innovative design solutions by defining a priori what topologies may be considered. We present new generative algorithm strategies that automatically satisfy structural stability constraints, and that can produce truss topologies with a diversity of patterns within an individual truss design. Truss topology and geometry is optimized in an outer-loop by a genetic algorithm that operates on generative algorithm rules, and size optimization is performed in an inner-loop for each candidate topology using sequential linear programming. The proposed methodology supports concurrent optimization of truss topology, geometry, and size. The generative algorithm abstraction layer also supports the design of variable-dimension structures, which can be generated from the same fixed-dimension rule set. Finally, we demonstrate the effectiveness of the new methodology by examining archetypal two- and three-dimensional truss design optimization problems.


Truss topology optimization Generative algorithms Structural optimization 



The authors would like to acknowledge the helpful insights offered by Brad Tober (UIUC School of Art and Design) regarding the use of generative algorithms in artistic expression.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashish Khetan
    • 1
  • Danny J. Lohan
    • 1
  • James T. Allison
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems EngineeringUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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