Structural optimization

  • D.W.C. Elliott

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The non-linear programming algorithms for the minimum weight design of structural frames are presented in this thesis. The first, which is applied to rigidly jointed and pin jointed plane frames subject to deflexion constraints, consists of a search in a feasible design space. Successive trial designs are developed so that the feasibility and the optimality of the designs are improved simultaneously. It is found that this method is restricted lo the design of structures with few unknown variables.
The second non-linear programming algorithm is presented .in a general form. This consists of two types of search, one improving feasibility and the other optimality. The method speeds up the 'feasible direction' approach by obtaining a constant weight direction vector that is influenced by dominating constraints. For pin jointed plane and space frames this method is used to obtain a 'minimum weight' design which satisfies restrictions on stresses and deflexions. The matrix force method enables the design requirements to be expressed in a general form and the design problem is automatically formulated within the computer. Examples are given to explain the method and the design criteria are extended to include member buckling.
Fundamental theorems are proposed and proved to confirm that structures are inter-related. These theorems are applicable to linear elastic structures and facilitate the prediction of the behaviour of one structure from the results of analysing another, more general, or related structure. It becomes possible to evaluate the significance of each member in the behaviour of a structure and the problem of minimum weight design is extended to include shape. A method is proposed to design structures of optimum shape with stress and deflexion limitations. Finally a detailed investigation is carried out into the design of structures to study the factors that influence their shape.
Date of AwardSept 1971
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorK.I. Majid (Supervisor)


  • structural frames
  • optimization
  • non-linear programming algorithms

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