Reliability-Based Topology Optimization with Analytic Sensitivities

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Virginia Tech

It is a common practice when designing a system to apply safety factors to the critical failure load or event. These safety factors provide a buffer against failure due to the random or un-modeled behavior, which may lead the system to exceed these limits. However these safety factors are not directly related to the likelihood of a failure event occurring. If the safety factors are poorly chosen, the system may fail unexpectedly or it may have a design which is too conservative. Reliability-Based Design Optimization (RBDO) is an alternative approach which directly considers the likelihood of failure by incorporating a reliability analysis step such as the First-Order Reliability Method (FORM). The FORM analysis requires the solution of an optimization problem however, so implementing this approach into an RBDO routine creates a double-loop optimization structure. For large problems such as Reliability-Based Topology Optimization (RBTO), numeric sensitivity analysis becomes computationally intractable. In this thesis, a general approach to the sensitivity analysis of nested functions is developed from the Lagrange Multiplier Theorem and then applied to several Reliability-Based Design Optimization problems, including topology optimization. The proposed approach is computationally efficient, requiring only a single solution of the FORM problem each iteration.

Reliability-Based Topology Optimization, First-Order Reliability Method, Sensitivity Analysis