Configuration Design of Mechanical Assemblies using an Estimation of Distribution Algorithm and Constraint Programming

AbstractA configuration design problem in mechanical engineering involves finding an optimal assembly of components and joints that realizes some desired performance criteria. Such a problem is a discrete, constrained, and black-box optimization problem. A novel method is developed to solve the problem by applying Bivariate Marginal Distribution Algorithm (BMDA) and constraint programming (CP). BMDA is a type of Estimation of Distribution Algorithm (EDA) that exploits the dependency knowledge learned between design variables without requiring too many fitness evaluations, which tend to be expensive for the current application. BMDA is extended with adaptive chi-square testing to identify dependencies and Gibbs sampling to generate new solutions. Also, repair operations based on CP are used to deal with infeasible solutions found during search. The method is applied to a vehicle suspension design problem and is found to be more effective in converging to good solutions than a genetic algorithm and other EDAs. These contributions are significant steps towards solving the difficult problem of configuration design in mechanical engineering with evolutionary computation.

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