MDO: Past Present and Future

Authors: 
Garret N. Vanderplaats
Publication: 
The Future Commercial Aircraft Workshop, Sanghai, China
Publication Date: 
May 24-27, 2011
Abstract: 

The field of numerical optimization based structural synthesis was begun by Prof. Lucien Schmit in 1960. Prof. Schmit together with Mr. Thornton also published the first multidiscipline design optimization (MDO) paper in the early 1960s. These works led to thousands of research papers, as well as numerous commercial products. The purpose here is to offer a brief overview of the MDO field and related developments since its inception, discuss the current state of the art and address possible future needs and directions. The discussion of the past will include general optimization algorithms, as well as specific methods that make structural synthesis efficient and reliable. Some past works in MDO, as well as efforts to provide a formal mathematical framework, will be discussed and evaluated. The overview of the past will naturally lead to an assessment of the present state of the art. Here, we will discuss what is possible today using COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf Software). Various examples will be offered to demonstrate the current capabilities. It will be seen that not only the state of the art is well developed for single discipline design optimization but that formal multidiscipline design optimization technology remains an elusive goal. Finally, we will consider the future of MDO. While it is not possible to predict future directions with certainty, present successes demonstrate that MDO has a strong future. We will attempt to identify some key needs for research and development and generate discussion on what the goals should be and how to achieve them. It is argued that a key issue is not just what is possible or needed but how to encourage the widespread use of the technology we have now. It is concluded that MDO is matured to the point where we can make widespread use of this powerful tool to meet our need to produce better products in a timely manner while making best use of our limited resources. A more widespread use of existing technology will be the strongest driver in identifying and implementing future technologies.

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