The problem of designing mechanical systems or components under uncertainty is considered. The basic idea is to ensure quality control at the design stage by minimizing sensitivity of the response to uncertain variables by proper selection of design variables. The formulation does not involve probability distributions. It is proved, however, that when the response is linear in the uncertain variable, reduction in sensitivity implies lesser probability of failure. The proof is generalized to the non-linear case under certain restrictions. In one example, the design of a three-bar truss is considered. The length of one of the bars is considered to be the uncertain variable while cross-sectional areas are the design variables. The sensitivity of the x-displacement is minimized. The constrained optimization problem is solved using a nonlinear programming code. A criterion which can help identify some of the problems where robustness in design is critical is discussed.

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