46th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference, Austin, TX

Authors: Rania Hassan, Babak Cohanim, Olivier de Weck, and Gerhard Venter
Publication Date: April 18-21, 2005

Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) is a relatively recent heuristic search method whose mechanics are inspired by the swarming or collaborative behavior of biological populations. PSO is similar to the Genetic Algorithm (GA) in the sense that these two evolutionary heuristics are population-based search methods. In other words, PSO and the GA move from a set of points (population) to another set of points in a single iteration with likely improvement using a combination of deterministic and probabilistic rules. The GA and its many versions have been popular in academia and the industry mainly because of its intuitiveness, ease of implementation, and the ability to effectively solve highly nonlinear, mixed integer optimization problems that are typical of complex engineering systems. The drawback of the GA is its expensive computational cost. This paper attempts to examine the claim that PSO has the same effectiveness (finding the true global optimal solution) as the GA but with significantly better computational efficiency (less function evaluations) by implementing statistical analysis and formal hypothesis testing. The performance comparison of the GA and PSO is implemented using a set of benchmark test problems as well as two space systems design optimization problems, namely, telescope array configuration and spacecraft reliability-based design.