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Automation in Construction 28 (2012) 106115

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Automation in Construction
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/autcon

High-performance Concrete Compressive Strength Prediction using Time-Weighted


Evolutionary Fuzzy Support Vector Machines Inference Model
Min-Yuan Cheng a, 1, Jui-Sheng Chou a, 2, Andreas F.V. Roy b,, Yu-Wei Wu a, 3
a
b

Dept. of Construction Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology,#43, Sec. 4, Keelung Rd., Taipei 106, Taiwan, ROC
Department of Civil Engineering, Parahyangan Catholic University, Indonesia

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Accepted 27 July 2012
Available online 24 August 2012
Keywords:
High performance concrete
Fuzzy logic
Time series
Weighted support vector machines
Fast messy genetic algorithms

a b s t r a c t
The major different between High Performance Concrete (HPC) and conventional concrete is essentially the
use of mineral and chemical admixture. These two admixtures made HPC mechanical behavior act differently
compare to conventional concrete at microstructures level. Certain properties of HPC are not fully understood
since the relationship between ingredients and concrete properties is highly nonlinear. Therefore, predicting
HPC behavior is relatively difcult compared to predicting conventional concrete behavior. This paper proposes an Articial Intelligence hybrid system to predict HPC compressive strength that fuses Fuzzy Logic
(FL), weighted Support Vector Machines (wSVM) and fast messy genetic algorithms (fmGA) into an Evolutionary Fuzzy Support Vector Machine Inference Model for Time Series Data (EFSIMT). Validation results
show that the EFSIMT achieves higher performance in comparison with Support Vector Machines (SVM)
and obtains results comparable with Back-Propagation Neural Network (BPN). Hence, EFSIMT offers strong
potential as a valuable predictive tool for HPC compressive strength.
2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
High-performance concrete (HPC) is a construction material that
has gained in popularity over the last decade due to special characteristics that include high workability, high strength, and high durability [35]. HPC differs from conventional concrete, which is a
mixture of four ingredients, namely Portland cement (PC), water,
ne aggregates and coarse aggregates. HPC employs an additional
two ingredients, namely a mineral admixture (e.g., y ash, blast
furnace slag, silica fume) and a chemical admixture (superplasticizer)
[11]. Therefore, the major difference between HPC and conventional
concrete is essentially the use of mineral and chemical admixtures
[5,29].
Those two admixtures made HPC mechanical behavior acts differently compare to conventional concrete at microstructure level
[2]. The microstructure of HPC is more compact as mineral admixture acts as ne ller and pozzolanic materials. Moreover chemical

Corresponding author at: Jl. Ciumbuleuit 94, Bandung, 40141, West Java, Indonesia.
Tel.: +62 22 2033691; fax: +62 22 2033692.
E-mail addresses: myc@mail.ntust.edu.tw (M.-Y. Cheng), jschou@mail.ntust.edu.tw
(J.-S. Chou), roy_afvr@yahoo.com, andrevan@unpar.ac.id (A.F.V. Roy),
d9305503@mail.ntust.edu.tw (Y.-W. Wu).
1
Tel.: +886 2 27336596; fax: +886 2 27301074.
2
Tel.: +886 2 27376321; fax: +886 2 2737 6606.
3
Tel.: +886 2 2733004; fax: +886 2 27301074.
0926-5805/$ see front matter 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2012.07.004

admixture reduces the water content which at the same time reduces level of porosity within the hydrated cement paste [2,29].
Therefore compressive strength of HPC is higher than conventional
concrete since those two admixtures decreased hydrated cement
paste porosity which represents the weakest links in concrete
microstructure.
Predicting HPC behavior is relatively difcult compared to
predicting conventional concrete behavior. Chou et al. [15] stated
that certain properties of HPC are not fully understood since the
relationship between ingredients and concrete properties is highly nonlinear. Therefore, traditional model of concrete properties is
inadequate for analyzing HPC compressive strength. Mix proportion is the process of choosing suitable ingredients of concrete
and determining their relative quantities with the object of producing as economically as possible concrete of certain minimum
properties, such as compressive strength [33]. There are popular
methods of mix proportion of HPC such method proposed by
[1,2,32] among other methods [28]. However, to obtain required
mix proportions of HPC most commonly based on trial mixes as
stated in relevant standards, experience, and rules of thumb approach [3,29].
Compressive strength is a mechanical property critical to measuring HPC quality [4,34]. Twenty-eighth day compressive strength is the
most widely used objective function in the mixture design. However,
as pointed out previously, the result depends on ingredient combinations and proportions, mixing techniques and other factors that must

M.-Y. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 28 (2012) 106115

be controlled during manufacturing. Kasperkiewicz et al. [24] stated


that the introduction of new ingredients and technologies implies
that the number of parameters for HPC mix design may extend to
10-, 20- or even higher dimensional decision space numbers. Waiting
28 days to get 28-day compression strength is time consuming and
not a common practice in the construction industry. Therefore,
many researchers have worked to establish prediction tools able to
obtain an early determination of compressive strength, ideally well
before concrete is laid down at a construction site. Prediction of concrete compressive strength is one area of active research in the civil
engineering eld, and a considerable number of relevant studies
have been carried out over the past 30 years. Zain and Abd [42]
attempted to categorize methods into three types, i.e., those using
statistical techniques, computational modeling and articial neural
networks. Akkurt et al. [4] also noted the use of fuzzy logic to predict
concrete compressive strength.
Statistical techniques represent a conventional approach, and
are used primarily to predict conventional concrete compressive
strength by establishing linear and nonlinear regression equations.
The approach starts with an analytical equation assumption,
followed by regression analysis that employs limited experimental
data to determine an unknown coefcient. While many regression
models have been suggested, obtaining a suitable regression equation is not an easy task. Moreover in this prediction effort, the early
compressive strength at 6-hour, 1-day and 3-day is usually embodied in a prediction equation that necessitates some time delay in prediction [34]. Furthermore, for HPC, where the number of inuencing
factors is greater than for conventional concrete, this regression
model is neither suitable nor adequate to predict compressive
strength [41].
As traditional methods handle complex non-linear and uncertain materials (like HPC) poorly, many researchers have sought better prediction tools. Many studies have proposed articial neural
networks (ANNs) and ANN variations to map non-linear relationships among factors of inuence on 28-day HPC compressive
strength. Kasperkiewicz et al. [24] proposed an articial neural network of the fuzzy-ARTMAP to predict HPC strength properties. It
was found that concrete property prediction could be effectively
modeled using a neural system without being affected by data complexity, incompleteness, or incoherence. In 1998, Yeh demonstrated
the superiority of ANNs in predicting HPC compressive strength that
produced better results than regression analysis. Yeh also showed
how easily ANNs could adapt to different numerical experiment settings in order to review the effect on the concrete mix of each variable
proportion.
Topu and Saridemir [38] used ANNs and fuzzy logic (FL), separately, to predict 7-, 28- and 90-day compressive strengths in HPC
with both high-lime and low-lime y ash contents. Obtaining prediction result values very close to actual experimental results, Topu
and Saridemir demonstrated neural networks and fuzzy logic as
practicable for use as predictive tools for determining the compressive strength value in y ash concrete. Zarandi et al. [43] fused
fuzzy neural networks (FNNs) and polynomial neural networks
(PNNs) to form fuzzy polynomial neural networks (FPNN) Type 1
and Type 2, which were also employed to predict concrete compressive strength. Using root means square (RMS) and correlation factors
(CFs) as evaluation criteria, FPNN Type-1 delivered better results
than attained by the adaptive network-based fuzzy inference system
(ANFIS). Parichatprecha and Nimityongskul [35] developed an ANN
model to determine the inuences of water content in cement, the
water-binder ratio, and the effect of replacing y ash and silica
fume on HPC durability. In this model, ANNs were used to predict
HPC durability, the results of which were then compared against regression equation results. Furthermore, as the neural network is a
black box model, Yeh and Lien [41] proposed genetic operation
tree (GOT) as an alternative model for predicting HPC compressive

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strength. GOT comprises an operation tree (OT) and genetic algorithm (GA), and automatically produces self-organized formulas to
predict strengths. However, even though GOT obtained results that
were better than non-linear regression formulas, prediction accuracy was inferior to those of ANNs.
The success of ANN and its variants as AI techniques in handling
highly complex materials such as HPC opened the possibilities of
using other AI approaches. The development of new AI techniques
has spurred follow-on research into their adoption and utilization
in the construction industry. For example, SVM, which represents
a new AI technique, has been shown to deliver comparable or
higher performance than traditional learning machines and has
been introduced as a powerful tool to solve classication and regression problems [7,13]. However, SVM presents several inherent
shortcomings. Firstly, SVM is unable to provide high prediction accuracy for either the penalty parameter (C) or kernel parameter settings. Secondly, SVM considers all training data points equally in
order to establish the decision surface. Therefore, Ling and Wang
[30] proposed a modied version of SVM, known as fuzzy SVM
(FSVM) or weighted SVM (wSVM), to weight all training data
points in order to allow different input points to contribute differently to the learning decision surface. Such modication is also suitable when the case problem involves time series prediction
problems, where older training points are associated with lower
weights, so that the effect of older training points is reduced
when the regression function is optimized.
The main purpose of this research study was to predict compressive strength in HPC using an AI hybrid system that fused FL, wSVM
and fast messy genetic algorithms (fmGA) into an evolutionary
fuzzy support vector machine inference model for time series data
(EFSIMT). Within the EFSIMT, FL is used as a fuzzy inference mechanism to handle vagueness and uncertainty due to material characteristics such as HPC ingredient mix, workmanship, site environment
situations, temperature, etc. wSVM handles the complex fuzzy
inputoutput mapping relationship and focuses on time series data
characteristics inherent in HPC experimental datasets as compressive
strength measured at different testing ages. fmGA is deployed as an
optimization tool to handle FL and wSVM search parameters. This
study applied HPC experimental data originally generated by Yeh
[40] and posted to the University of California, Irvine machine learning repository website. To verify and validate the proposed system,
EFSIMT performance was compared against original SVMs and
back-propagation neural network (BPN).
2. Brief introduction to FL, weighted SVMs, time series analysis,
and fmGA
2.1. Fuzzy logic
Fuzzy logic (FL) is a popular AI technique invented by Zadeh in the
1960s that has been used in forecasting, decision making and action
control in environments characterized by uncertainty, vagueness, presumptions and subjectivity [6]. Chan et al. [9] found that, between
1996 and 2005, FL was used by many scholars in construction-related
research, either as single or hybrid techniques that may be categorized
into four different types, namely: decision-making, performance, evaluation/assessment, and modeling. Cases including contractor selection in
multi-criteria environments, sustainable residential building assessments, site layout planning, dynamic resource allocation, procurement
selection modeling, bid/no-bid decision-making, and project selection
are several example applications of FL in construction management
decision-making.
FL consists of four major components, namely fuzzication, rule
base, inference engine and defuzzication. Fuzzication is a process
that uses membership functions (MFs) to convert the value of input
variables into corresponding linguistic variables. The result, which is

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M.-Y. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 28 (2012) 106115

used by the inference engine, stimulates the human decision-making


process based on fuzzy implications and available rules. In the nal
step, the fuzzy set, as the output of the inference process, is converted
into crisp output. This process, which reverses fuzzication, is called
defuzzication [26].
Despite the advantages of FL, the approach has a number of problems, including identifying appropriate MFs and number of rules for
application. This process is subjective in nature and reects the context in which a problem is viewed. The more complex the problem,
the more difcult MF construction and rules become [27]. Some researchers perceive this drawback as an optimization problem because
determining MF congurations and fuzzy rules is complicated and
problem-oriented. Some researchers have worked to overcome
remaining difculties by fusing FL with AI optimization techniques,
such as GA and ant colony [23,31]. These optimization methods
have demonstrated their ability to minimize time-consuming operations as well as the level of human intervention necessary to optimize MFs and fuzzy rules.
2.2. Weighted support vector machines
The term weighted support vector machines (wSVMs) was proposed by Fan and Ramamohanarao [18] as a synonym for Fuzzy Support
Vector Machines (FSVMs) to draw attention to the effective weighting
of fuzzy memberships at each FSVM training point.4 Fan and
Ramamohanarao [18] stated that different input vectors make different
contributions to the learning of decision surface. Thus, the important
issue in training weighted SVMs is how to develop a reliable weighting
model to reect the true noise distribution in the training data. Fan and
Ramamohanarao [18] developed emerging patterns (EPs) to weight the
training data. Lin and Wang [30] developed FSVMs to enhance support
vector machine (SVM) abilities to reduce the effects of outliers and
noise in data points. While SVMs a recent AI paradigm developed by
Vapnik [39] that has been used in a wide range of applications, treat
all training points of a given class uniformly, training points in many
real world applications bear different importance weightings for classication purposes. To solve this problem, Lin and Wang [30] applied a
fuzzy member to each SVM input point, thus allowing different input
points to contribute differently to the learning decision surface. In
such time series prediction problems, older training points are associated
with lower weights, so that the effect of older training points is reduced
when the regression function is optimized.
In sequential learning and inference methods such as time series
problems, where a point from the recent past may be given greater
weight than a point from further in the past, function of time ti can be
selected as the weighted SVM si scheme. Lin and Wang [30] proposed
three time functions, linear, quadratic, and exponential, as shown in
Eqs. (1)(3). Those three time functions were used by Khemchandani
et al. [25] on nancial time series forecasting problems, who demonstrated their abilities to bring about better results than SVM.
si f l t i

1
t t 1
t m
t m t 1 i
t m t 1



t t 2
si f q t i 1 i 1

t m t 1
si f e t i

1



1
:
1 exp 2 tt i t
t
l

However, as the wSVM was developed from SVM, it presents the


user with similar problems. Schlkopf and Smola (2002) expressed
that SVM bandwidth and penalty parameter C, which determines
4

In this paper, to avoid confusion with the FL technique, the term wSVM is used.

the trade-off between margin maximization and violation error minimization, represent an issue that requires attention and handling. Another point of concern is the setting of kernel parameters, such as
gamma (), on the radial basis function, which must also be set properly
to improve prediction accuracy. In addition, using wSVM requires users
to set a further parameter, i.e., weighting data parameter . Therefore,
three different parameters must be optimized, including the penalty parameter (C), kernel parameter (i.e. , if the RBF kernel is employed), and
. To overcome this challenge, an optimization technique (e.g., fmGA)
may be used to identify best parameters simultaneously [13].
2.3. Time series analysis
Time series analysis is a powerful data analysis technique with
two specic goals. The rst goal is to identify a suitable mathematical
model for data, and the second is to forecast future values in a series
based on established patterns and, possibly, other relevant series and/
or factors [16].
Over the past several decades, much has been written in the technical literature about linear prediction in time series analysis, covering such approaches as smoothing methods, the BoxJenkins time
series model and the auto regression model. Accurate and unbiased
estimation of time series data produced by these linear techniques
cannot always be achieved, as real word applications are generally
not amenable to linear prediction techniques [37]. Real world time
series applications are fraught by highly nonlinear, complex, dynamic
and uncertain conditions in the eld. Thus, estimation requires development of a more advanced time series prediction algorithm, such as
that achieved using an AI approach.
Refenes et al. [36] described structural change as a time series data
characteristic that should always be taken into account in all methodological approaches to time-series analysis. In light of this characteristic, Cao et al. [8] expressed that recent data provide more relevant
information than distant data. Consequently, recent data should be
assigned weights relatively greater than weights assigned earlier
data. Cao et al. [8] and Khemchandani et al. [25] adopted this approach effectively by applying AI techniques such as SVMs and
wSVMs in nancial time series forecasting applications.
2.4. Fast messy genetic algorithm
The fast messy genetic algorithm (fmGA) is a genetic algorithmbased optimization tool able to nd optimal solutions to large-scale
permutation problems efciently. Goldberg et al. [21] developed
fmGA as an improvement on messy genetic algorithms (mGAs). Different from simple genetic algorithms (sGAs), which describe possible
solutions using xed length strings, fmGA applies messy chromosomes
to form strings of various lengths [17,19].
A messy chromosome is a collection of messy genes. A messy gene
in fmGA is represented by the paired values allele locus and allele
value. Allele locus indicates gene position and allele value represents
the value of the gene in that position. Consider the two messy chromosomes as follows: chromosome C1: ((1 0) (2 1) (3 1) (1 1)) and
C2: ((3 1) (1 0)) both represent valid strings with lengths of three.
As the above example shows, messy chromosomes may have various
lengths. Moreover, messy chromosomes may be either over-specied
or underspecied in terms of encoding bit-wise strings. Chromosome
C1 is an over-specied string, which has two different values in the gene
1 position. To handle this over-specied chromosome, the string may be
scanned from left to right following the rst-come-rst-served rule.
Thus, C1 represents bit string 011. On the other hand, a competitive
template would be employed to evaluate an underspecied chromosome, such as C2. The competitive template is a problem-specic,
xed-bit string that is either generated randomly or found during the
search process. As shown in Fig. 1, if the competitive template is 111,
C2 represents bit string 011 by assigning corresponding allele values

M.-Y. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 28 (2012) 106115

Messy chromosome: (3 1)(1 0)


Bit string
Competitive template:

Fig. 1. Evaluation of an underspecied messy chromosome.

in the position of gene 2 from the competitive template to represent


missing genes.
The fmGA contains two loop types, i.e., inner and outer. The process starts with the outer loop. Firstly, a competitive template, represented by a problem-specic, xed-bit string, is generated randomly
or found during the search process. Each outer loop cycle is one
era, which iterates over the order k of processed building blocks
(BBs). A building block is a set of genes, a subset of strings that are
short, low-order and high-performance.
With the start of each new era, the three-phase operations of the
inner loop, including the initialization phase, the building block ltering (BBF) or primordial phase, and the juxtapositional phase, are invoked. In the initialization phase, an adequately large population
contains all possible BBs of order k. fmGA performs the PCI process
at this stage, which randomly generates n chromosomes and calculates their tness values. There are two operations in the primordial
phase, namely building-block ltering and threshold selection. In
the primordial phase, bad genes that do not belong to BBs are ltered
out, so that, in the end, the resultant population encloses a high proportion of good genes belonging to BBs. In the juxtaposition phase,
operations are more similar to those of sGAs. The selection procedure
for good genes (BBs) is used together with a cut-and-splice operator
to form a high quality generation, which may contain the optimal
solution.
Operations in the next outer loop begin once those in the inner
loop have nished. The competitive template is substituted with the
best solution found so far, which becomes the new competitive template for the next era. The whole process is repeated until the maximum number kmax is reached. The fmGA can also perform over
epochs. This term is used to describe a complete process that starts
from a rst era and continues until kmax. The best solution found in
one complete process is passed to succeeding epochs through the
competitive template. Epochs can be performed as many times as desired. The algorithm is terminated once a good-enough solution is
obtained or no further improvement is made.
3. Evolutionary fuzzy support vector machine inference model for
time series data
Evolutionary fuzzy support vector machine inference model for time
series data (EFSIMT) is a hybrid AI system that fuses three different
AI techniques, namely, FL, wSVM and fmGA. The developed EFSIMT
based on the FL paradigm is a hybrid AI system that allows computer
systems to solve problems intelligently by imitating human reasoning
to recommend decisions with a level of accuracy similar to that attained
by experts. In this complementary system, FL deals with vagueness and
approximate reasoning; wSVMs act as a supervised learning tool to
handle fuzzy inputoutput mapping and focused on time series data
characteristics; and fmGA works to optimize FL and wSVM parameters.
The ability of FL to deal with vagueness and uncertainty depends
heavily on the appropriate distribution of MFs, number of rules and
selection of proper fuzzy set operations. FL parameter construction
is not easy, as they are problem-oriented and rely heavily on expert
knowledge. wSVMs and fmGA were introduced to resolve such issues.
The fuzzy inference engine and fuzzy rules based on the conventional

109

FL system were replaced by wSVMs. However, the generalizability


and predictive accuracy of wSVMs are determined by searched problem parameters, including the optimal penalty parameter, kernel parameters and the lower bound of the weighted data parameter. To
overcome this shortcoming, EFSIMT utilizes fmGA to search simultaneously for optimum wSVM and FL parameters. Fig. 2 illustrates the
EFSIMT architecture. Nine steps must be followed to establish the
EFSIMT model, as explained below:
(1) Training data. The EFSIMT uses sequential data as training data.
The appropriate factors need to be indentied rst before input
and output patterns can be collected. Subsequently, these patterns, representing training data, must be normalized to avoid
greater numeric ranges dominating those with smaller numeric ranges and help avoid numerical difculties [22]. As inference results of new problems may be greater or smaller than
desired outputs distributed in input patterns, the normalization
method was revised. Maximum and minimum output parameters were enlarged by 10% [12]. Functions used to normalize
the data are shown in Eqs. (4)(6).
Xn

X a X L
X U X L



X U X max X range =10



X L X min X range =10

where
Xn
Xa
XU
XL
Xmax
Xmin
Xrange

Output parameter after normalization (range between 0 and 1)


Output parameter before normalization
Upper bound of output parameter
Lower bound of output parameter
maximum of output parameter
minimum of output parameter
Difference between maximum and minimum.

(2) Data weighting. For time series prediction problems, certain data
points are more important to the training process and others are
less important, based on the nearness of their date to the present
and degree of noise corruption. To deal with such issues, the
model applies weight to each input point according to three
types of time functions, as shown in Eqs. (1)(3). In doing so, different input points can make different contributions to the learning of the approximated function, and can improve the SVM in
diminishing the effect of outliers and noisy data. Due to this
weighting process, the last data point xm will be treated as
most important, and thus be assigned an smvalue of 1. The rst
data point x1 will be treated as least important and given a
weighting value equal to . In this step, the value of was generated randomly and encoded by fmGA. In this research, the
LIBSVM developed by Chang and Lin [10] was embedded into
the EFSIMT model.
(3) Fuzzication. In this step, each normalized input attribute is
converted into corresponding membership grades. This mapping
of crisp quantity to fuzzy quantity is carried out by membership
function (MF) sets generated and encoded by fmGA. This study
used trapezoidal MFs and triangular MF shapes (see Fig. 3)
that, in general, may be developed by referencing summit points
and widths [23]. The summit and width representation method
(SWRM) was used in this study to encode complete MF sets
(see Fig. 3(c)) [27]. Fig. 4 illustrates the fuzzication process.
(4) Weighted SVM training model. In this step, wSVMs developed
based on SVMs are deployed to handle fuzzy inputoutput

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M.-Y. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 28 (2012) 106115

6
fmGA
parameters search

NO
9

SVM
Parameters

MFs

(C, )

1
Training
Data

3
Data
Weighting

Defuzzification
Parameter

Fuzzification

Termination
criteria

Optimal
Prediction
Model

5
weighted SVM
training
model

YES

Fitness
evaluation

Defuzzification

Legend:
Data flow

Control flow
Fig. 2. EFSIMT structure.

into a binary string. Chromosomes consist of two segments, including FL and weighted SVMs. The FL segment contains MF
and dfp substrings. The weighted SVM segment contains penalty
parameters C, kernel parameter from the RBF function and the
lower boundary of weighted data parameter . Fig. 5 illustrates
the chromosome structure.
As mentioned above, MF substrings are encoded using the
SWRM method, which denes the distribution of uneven MFs
using their summits and widths (see Fig. 3(c)). In Fig. 3(a), trapezoidal MF summits are sm1 and sm2, whereas left and right
widths are wd1 and wd2, respectively. A triangular MF may be
regarded as a special trapezoidal MF case, in which sm1 = sm2.
A complete MF set includes two shoulders. Fig 3(c) shows the
complete trapezoidal MF set, consisting of ve summit points
(sm1, sm2, sm3, sm4, sm5) and four widths (wd1, wd2, wd3, wd4).
Applying the SWRM method, the required length of the MF binary substring RLMF may be dened as follows:

mapping. Fuzzication process output, in the form of membership grades, acts as fuzzy input for wSVMs. wSVMs train this
dataset to obtain the prediction model and use penalty (C) and
kernel parameters () that are randomly generated and
encoded by fmGA. This study used the RBF kernel as a reasonable rst choice [22].
(5) Defuzzication. Once the wSVM has nished the training process, output numbers are expressed in terms of fuzzy output,
which must be converted into crisp numbers. Employing
fmGA, the EFSIMT generates a random dfp substring and encodes
it to convert wSVM output. This evolutionary approach is simple
and straightforward, as it uses dfp as a common denominator for
wSVM output.
(6) fmGA parameter search. fmGA was employed to search concurrently for the ttest shapes of MFs, dfp, penalty parameter C, RBF
kernel parameter and the lower boundary of weighted data
parameter . As fmGA works based on the concept of genetic
operations, chromosome design plays a central role in achieving
objectives. The chromosome that represents a possible solution
for searched parameters consists of ve parts, namely the MF
substring, dfp substring, penalty parameter substring, kernel parameter substring and lower bound of weighting data substring.
Every substring has a specic length that should t within certain requirements, which correspond to the searched parameter.
These requirements include length of decimal point string and
upper and lower parameter bounds, among others.
The chromosome, as the model variable in EFSIMT, is encoded

sm1

sm1 = sm2

sm2

rn

cMF



sm
sm
wd
wd
 n  rl n  rl

where rncMF represents the required number of complete MF


sets, n sm represents the number of summits in a complete MF
set, rlsm represents the required length for a summit depending
on demand, n wd represents the number of widths in one complete MF set, and rl wd represents the required demanddependent width. Considering that each input variable uses

sm2

sm1

Membership grade

1.0

MF

RL

sm4 sm5

sm3

MF2

MF1

MF3

Degree
value

x1

x2
wd1

x4

x3

x1

wd2

x 2 = x3
wd1

x4
wd2

X lb

wd1
wd2

X ub

wd3

Fig. 3. Membership function: (a) trapezoidal; (b) triangular; (c) complete MF set [27].

wd4

M.-Y. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 28 (2012) 106115


sca

sca

sca

X11

X12

111
sca

X13

...

X1n

...

MFset 1

mg1

x11

mg2

x11

MFset 3

MFset 2

mg3

x11

mg1

x12

mg2

x12

mg3

x12

mg1

x13

mg2

x13

MFset n

mg3

x13

...

mg

, x1n 1 ,

mg2

x1n

mg3

x1n

Legend:
sca

Xij : scaled input pattern


xijmg k

i : number of cases

: membership grade k of

sca
Xij

j : number of input pattern

k : number of membership function in one complete membership set


Fig. 4. Fuzzication process.

a common complete MF set to fuzzify crisp input data, rn cMF is


carried as follows:
rn

cMF

1
iv
n

parameter settings and numbers of bits required for chromosome design.


(7) Fitness evaluation. Every chromosome that represents MFs,
dfp, C, and is encoded and used to train the dataset.
Model accuracy is obtained when a prediction model of the
training dataset is obtained. Each chromosome is further
evaluated using a tness function.
The tness function was designed to measure model accuracy
and the tness of generalization properties [27]. This function
describes the ttest shape of MFs, optimized dfp number and
weighted SVM parameters. The tness function integrates
model accuracy and model complexity, as expressed in Eq.
(10).

if all input variables use a common complete MF set


if each input variable uses its individual complete MF set

8
where n iv represents the number of input variables. dfp is a
number searched by fmGA that will convert fuzzy output
from the inference engine into crisp output. The required
length rl x of the dfp binary substring may be dened by
adapting the variable mapping function of Gen and Cheng
[20] from domain [lb x, ub x], as follows:
rlx 1

x

b ub lb

rp

rlx

 10 2 1

fi

where rp is the required number of places after the decimal


point, and lb x and ub x represent the lower and upper bound
values of variable x. For the weighted SVM parameter segment
(containing penalty parameter C, gamma and sigma
substrings), the required length of each binary C, and
substring is also computed using Eq. (9). Table 1 summarizes

MF1

MF2

MF3 MFn

dfp

consist of

sm1, sm2,,sm5

10

where c aw represents the accuracy weighting coefcient, s er


represents the prediction error between actual output and
desired output, c cw represents the complexity weighting coefcient, and mc represents model complexity, which can be
assessed simply by counting number of support vectors.
(8) Termination criteria. The process is terminated when termination criteria are satised. While still unsatised, the model will
proceed to the next generation. As the EFSIMT uses fmGA, the
termination criterion used here is either number of era (k) or
number of epoch (e). The loop process continues when specied
criteria are not met.
(9) Optimal prediction model. The loop stops once the termination
criterion is fullled, i.e., the prediction model has identied the
input/output mapping relationship incorporating optimal MF,
C, , and dfp parameters.

weighted
SVMs segment

FL segment

1
caw  ser ccw  mc

wd1,wd2...wd4

Legend:
MFi : membership function i-th
dfp : defuzzification parameter
C : penalty parameter
: RBF kernel parameter
: lower bound of weighting data parameter
smj : summit point j-th of MFi
wdj : width j-th of MFi
Fig. 5. EFSIMT chromosome structure.

Table 1
Summary of EFSIMT parameter settings.
Parameter

Upper bound

Lower bound

Number of bits

MF set
C

Linear and quadratic


Exponential
dfp

200
1
1
20
1

0
0.0001
0.1
0.05
0.5

27a
5
10
10
10
9

Number of bits required for one complete MF set.

112

M.-Y. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 28 (2012) 106115

Table 2
HPC database: input and output variables.

Table 4
Comparison of results among SVMs, BPN and EFSIMT.

Input/output variables

Unit

Minimum

Maximum

Cement
Blast furnace slag
Fly ash
Water
Superplasticizer
Coarse aggregate
Fine aggregate
Age of testing
Concrete compressive strength

(kg/m3)
(kg/m3)
(kg/m3)
(kg/m3)
(kg/m3)
(kg/m3)
(kg/m3)
Day
MPa

102.00
0.00
0.00
121.75
0.00
801.00
594.00
1.00
2.33

540.00
359.40
200.10
247.00
32.20
1145.00
992.60
365.00
82.60

Dataset

Training set

Testing set

Evaluation
performance
measurement

SVMs

r
MAE (MPa)
RMSE (MPa)
R2
r
MAE (MPa)
RMSE (MPa)
R2

0.850
7.122
8.854
0.722
0.867
8.116
10.401
0.752

BPN

0.951
3.869
5.094
0.904
0.935
5.238
6.902
0.873

EFSIMT
Linear

Quadratic

Exponential

0.954
4.184
5.120
0.909
0.957
4.781
5.865
0.916

0.954
4.189
5.126
0.910
0.961
4.121
5.378
0.923

0.951
4.235
5.152
0.902
0.963
4.410
5.430
0.927

4. EFSIMT for predicting HPC compressive strength


This section veries and validates the performance of the hybrid
system EFSIMT in predicting HPC compressive strength. The model
proposed herein predicts the compressive strength of HPC using an
experimental database originally collected by Yeh [40] and furnished
from various university research labs, which was posted to the University of California, Irvine machine learning repository website. The
database includes a total of 1030 concrete samples and covers 9 attributes, 8 of which are quantitative input variables and 1 of which is an
output variable. Each instance includes the amount of cements, y
ash, blast furnace slag, water, superplasticizers, coarse aggregate,
ne aggregate, age of testing and the compressive strength (in
MPa). Table 2 shows the general details of the nine attributes used
in this study. However, the database often contains unexpected inaccuracies [24], as for instance, the class of y ash may not be indicated.
Another problem is related to superplasticizer as chemical admixture
produced by different manufactures which may have different chemical compositions [15,41]. Moreover, Chou et al. [15] identied that
such inaccuracies induce another difculty related to the compressive
strength which can be classied into a specic class such as high or
low concrete compressive strength.
EFSIMT employs FL to manage environments characterized by
uncertainty, vagueness, presumptions and subjectivity. This capability is suited to HPC database characteristics. As pointed out by
Kasperkiewicz et al. [24] the HPC database often contains inaccuracies
due to mixing proportions, mixing techniques and ingredient characteristics (e.g., varying degrees of nesses, classes of y ash, and types
of superplasticizer). Such makes prediction of HPC compressive
strength a highly uncertain task. Moreover, EFSIMT is also able to
deal with time series data characteristics inherent to HPC databases
(e.g., compressive strength measures representing 14 different testing ages ranging from 1 day to 365 days as shown in Table 3).
To develop the HPC compressive strength prediction system, the
1030 samples were divided randomly into training and testing sets.

90% or 927 samples were assigned to the training set and the remainder, 10% or 103 samples, were assigned to the testing set. As the
EFSIMT was to be compared against SVM and BPN result accuracies,
SVM and BPN parameter setting procedures followed previous researcher
suggestions and settings. In this study, as suggested by Hsu et al. [22] parameter settings for SVMs, herein C and were set to 1 and 1k respectively,
with k representing number of input patterns. The parameter setting for
BPN followed Yeh [40] and Yeh and Lien [41] and assigned network architecture settings as: 1 hidden layer containing 8 hidden units, and learning
parameter settings as: 1.0 for learning rate, and 0.5 for momentum factor.
This study employed four performance measures, namely root
mean square error (RMSE), coefcient correlation (r), coefcient of
determination (R 2) and mean absolute error (MAE) to verify and validate the accuracy of the proposed system and other AI models.
Table 4 shows RSME, r, R 2, and MAE results of the proposed EFSIMT
system (linear, quadratic and exponential time series functions) compared against the other AI systems (SVM and BPN). Based on the four
different evaluation methods for both training and testing datasets,
SVMs provided the least satisfactory result. In comparing BPN and
EFSIMT (linear, quadratic and exponential time series functions)
based on RSME and MAE, BPN performed slightly better than EFSIMT,
but only on training data (not on the testing data set). However, in
terms of coefcient correlation (r) and the coefcient of determination (R 2) for the training data set, EFSIMT is comparable to BPN.
Fig. 6 presents scatter diagrams of SVMs, BPN and EFSIMT (linear,
quadratic and exponential time series functions) for the training
data set.
Better results were achieved by EFSIMT in terms of predicting testing dataset results, which shows that the EFSIMT training data learning process provides a prediction model superior to BPN. Such
conrms that EFSIMT (linear, quadratic and exponential time series
functions) delivers comparable or higher performance than BPN.
This better learning ability demonstrates EFSIMT ability to cope with

Table 3
HPC database examples.
Cement
(kg/m3)

Blast furnace slag


(kg/m3)

Fly ash
(kg/m3)

Water
(kg/m3)

Superplasticizer
(kg/m3)

Coarse aggregate
(kg/m3)

Fine aggregate
(kg/m3)

Age of testing
(day)

Concrete compressive strength


(MPa)

540.0
540.0
332.5
332.5
198.6
168.0
168.0
190.0
485.0
374.0
313.3
425.0
425.0
375.0

0.0
0.0
142.5
142.5
132.4
42.1
42.1
190.0
0.0
189.2
262.2
106.3
106.3
93.8

0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
163.8
163.8
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0

162.0
162.0
228.0
228.0
192.0
121.8
121.8
228.0
146.0
170.1
175.5
153.5
151.4
126.6

2.5
2.5
0.0
0.0
0.0
5.7
5.7
0.0
0.0
10.1
8.6
16.5
18.6
23.4

1040.0
1055.0
932.0
932.0
978.4
1058.7
1058.7
932.0
1120.0
926.1
1046.9
852.1
936.0
852.1

676.0
676.0
594.0
594.0
825.5
780.1
780.1
670.0
800.0
756.7
611.8
887.1
803.7
992.6

28
28
270
365
360
14
28
28
28
3
3
3
3
3

79.99
61.89
40.27
41.05
44.30
17.82
24.24
40.86
71.99
34.40
28.80
33.40
36.30
29.00

M.-Y. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 28 (2012) 106115

SVMs

100

BPN

R2 = 0.7217

100

R2 = 0.9038

80

Predicted Output (MPa)

Predicted Output (MPa)

80

60

40

20

60

40

20

20

40

60

80

100

20

Actual Output (MPa)

80

100

80

100

R2 = 0.9096

100

Predicted Output (MPa)

80

60

40

60

40

20

20

20

40

60

80

100

20

Actual Output (MPa)

40

60

Actual Output (MPa)


Exponential EFSIM T

R2 = 0.9023

100

80

Predicted Output (MPa)

Predicted Output (MPa)

60

Quadratic EFSIM T

R2 = 0.9088

80

40

Actual Output (MPa)

Linear EFSIMT

100

113

60

40

20

20

40

60

80

100

Actual Output (MPa)


Fig. 6. Scatter diagram of actual vs. predicted between SVMs, BPN and EFSIMT on training data set.

114

M.-Y. Cheng et al. / Automation in Construction 28 (2012) 106115

uncertain characteristics inherent in HPC databases. Moreover, as


EFSIMT employed wSVM, the proposed model is also able to map
the complex relationship between input and output variables as
well as manage time series characteristics inherent to HPC databases.
While EFSIMT employed three different time series functions (linear, quadratic and exponential) to weigh data points, one preferable
time series function should be chosen based on performance achieved
by each time series function, both in the training and testing datasets.
As shown in Table 4, the EFSIMT using quadratic functions, generally
provides slightly better performance, especially on the testing data
set, in comparison with the EFSIMT using linear and exponential
time series functions. However, it should be noted that differences
in performance obtained between the three time functions were not
signicant. This shows that there remains room for improvement to
nd a better time series function to predict HPC compressive strength.
The proposed model, EFSIMT, offers the potential to predict HPC compressive strength. The practitioners can obtain early, applicable and reliable prediction of concrete compressive strength for pre-design and
quality control, as waiting 28 days to get 28-day compressive strength
or later-age compressive strength is time-consuming. In accordance
with Zain and Abd [42] and Chou et al. [14] the rapid prediction would
enable the adjustment of mix proportion to avoid situation where concrete does not reach the required compressive strength, which would
save time and construction costs.
5. Conclusion
This paper proposed EFSIMT as a hybrid AI system to predict HPC
compressive strength, a mechanical property critical to measuring HPC
quality. EFSIMT was developed by fusing FL, wSVMs and fmGA. FL was
used to address uncertainties inherent in HPC; wSVMs addressed complex relationships related to fuzzy inputoutput mapping and measured
variations in time series data in the HPC database (e.g., compressive
strength) with regard to testing age; and fmGA was an optimization
tool used to handle FL and wSVM search parameters.
In comparison with SVMs, the accuracy of the proposed EFSIMT
was signicantly better for four different evaluation measurements.
However, in comparison with BPN, especially in terms of training
dataset results, the proposed method achieved comparable results.
Such was contrary to testing dataset results, where EFSIMT performed
better than BPN. Such results demonstrate the superior ability of
EFSIMT to manage 1) time series data characteristics inherent in
HPC experimental data, 2) complex relationships between input and
output variables, and 3) uncertainties inherent in HPC databases.
Therefore, EFSIMT offers strong potential as a predictive tool for HPC
compressive strength.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank Professor I-Cheng Yeh for providing the HPC database.
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