Design of complex products with several interacting subsystems or disciplinary analyses poses substantive challenges to both analysis and optimization, necessitating specialized solution techniques. A product or system may qualify as complex due to large scale or due to strong interactions. Single-level strategies for complex system optimization centralize decision-making authority, while multilevel strategies distribute the decision-making process. This article studies important differences between two popular single-level formulations: multidisciplinary feasible (MDF) and individual disciplinary feasible (IDF). Results presented aim at aiding practitioners in selecting between formulations. Specifically, while IDF incurs some computational overhead, it may find optima hidden to MDF and is more efficient computationally for strongly coupled problems; further, MDF is sensitive to variations in coupling strength, while IDF is not. Conditions that lead to failure of MDF are described. Two new reproducible design examples are introduced to illustrate these findings and to provide test problems for other investigations.
On Selecting Single-Level Formulations for Complex System Design Optimization
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Allison, J. T., Kokkolaras, M., and Papalambros, P. Y. (September 27, 2006). "On Selecting Single-Level Formulations for Complex System Design Optimization." ASME. J. Mech. Des. September 2007; 129(9): 898–906. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2747632
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