Finite Elements in Optimal Structural Design
The optimization of a structure modeled by finite elements can proceed in two diametrically opposed directions. The first direction is that of interfacing a finite element software package with an optimization package where both packages are treated primarily as black boxes. The second direction is the intimate integration of the finite element analysis and optimization processes. Many research structural optimization programs followed the second path for reasons of efficiency and convenience to the researchers who wrote these programs. However, in production codes the tendency is to follow the more modular first direction. The integrated approach is probably justified only when it reflects algorithmic integration of the analysis and optimization processes. This type of integration is presently at the research stage.
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