Multidisciplinary Optimization of a Supersonic Transport Using Design of Experiments Theory and Response Surface Modeling

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Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University


The presence of numerical noise in engineering design optimization problems inhibits the use of many gradient-based optimization methods. This numerical noise may result in the inaccurate calculation of gradients which in turn slows or prevents convergence during optimization, or it may promote convergence to spurious local optima. The problems created by numerical noise are particularly acute in aircraft design applications where a single aerodynamic or structural analysis of a realistic aircraft configuration may require tens of CPU hours on a supercomputer. The computational expenses of the analyses coupled with the convergence difficulties created by numerical noise are significant obstacles to performing aircraft multidisciplinary design optimization. To address these issues, a procedure has been developed to create noise-free algebraic models of subsonic and supersonic aerodynamic performance qualities for use in the optimization of high-speed civil transport (HSCT) aircraft configurations. This procedure employs methods from statistical design of experiments theory and response surface modeling to create the noise-free algebraic models. Results from a sample HSCT design problem involving ten variables are presented to demonstrate the utility of this method.