Methodology for global optimization of computationally expensive design problems
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The design of unconventional aircraft requires early use of high-fidelity physics-based tools to search the unfamiliar design space for optimum designs. Current methods for incorporating high-fidelity tools into early design phases for the purpose of reducing uncertainty are inadequate due to the severely restricted budgets that are common in early design as well as the unfamiliar design space of advanced aircraft. This motivates the need for a robust and efficient global optimization algorithm. This research presents a novel surrogate model-based global optimization algorithm to efficiently search challenging design spaces for optimum designs. The algorithm searches the design space by constructing a fully Bayesian Gaussian process model through a set of observations and then using the model to make new observations in promising areas where the global minimum is likely to occur. The algorithm is incorporated into a methodology that reduces failed cases, infeasible designs, and provides large reductions in the objective function values of design problems. Results on four sets of algebraic test problems are presented and the methodology is applied to an airfoil section design problem and a conceptual aircraft design problem. The method is shown to solve more nonlinearly constrained algebraic test problems than state-of-the-art algorithms and obtains the largest reduction in the takeoff gross weight of a notional 70-passenger regional jet versus competing design methods.