Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimiztion, 29(6):432-444

Authors: Jaroslaw Sobieszczanski-Sobieski and Gerhard Venter
Publication Date: June 2005

Commonly available optimization methods typically produce a single optimal design as a constrained minimum of a particular objective function. However, in engineering design practice it is quite often important to explore as much of the design space as possible, with respect to many attributes, to discover what behaviors are possible and not possible within the initially adopted design concept. This paper shows that the very simple method of the sum of weighted objectives is useful for such exploration. By geometrical argument it is demonstrated that if every weighting coefficient is allowed to change its magnitude and its sign then the method returns a set of designs that are all feasible, diverse in their attributes,and include the Pareto and non-Pareto solutions, at least for convex cases. Numerical examples in the paper include the case of an aircraft wing structural box with thousands of degrees of freedom and constraints, and over 100 design variables, whose attributes are structural mass, volume, displacement, and frequency. The weighted coefficients method is inherently suitable for parallel, coarse-grained implementation that enables exploration of the design space in the elapsed time of a single structural optimization.