Learning to Set Up Numerical Optimizations of Engineering Designs

  • Mark Schwabacher
  • Thomas Ellman
  • Haym Hirsh
Part of the Massive Computing book series (MACO, volume 3)


Gradient-based numerical optimization of complex engineering designs offers the promise of rapidly producing better designs. However, such methods generally assume that the objective function and constraint functions are continuous, smooth, and defined everywhere. Unfortunately, realistic simulators tend to violate these assumptions, making optimization unreliable. Several decisions that need to be made in setting up an optimization, such as the choice of a starting prototype, and the choice of a formulation of the search space, can make a difference in how reliable the optimization is. Machine learning can help by making these choices based on the results of previous optimizations. We demonstrate this idea by using machine learning for four parts of the optimization setup problem: selecting a starting prototype from a database of prototypes, synthesizing a new starting prototype, predicting which design goals are achievable, and selecting a formulation of the search space. We use standard tree-induction algorithms (C4.5 and CART). We present results in two realistic engineering domains: racing yachts, and supersonic aircraft. Our experimental results show that using inductive learning to make setup decisions improves both the speed and the reliability of design optimization.


Search Space Design Goal Soft Constraint Inductive Learning Design Library 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science DepartmentRutgers, The State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA

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