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6th World Congresses of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization

Rio de Janeiro, 30 May - 03 June 2005, Brazil

GA based Optimal Design of Steel Truss Bridge


R. Pandia Raj1, V. Kalyanaraman2
1

Research Student, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, E-mail: rp317@cam.ac.uk


2
Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India, E-mail: kalyan@iitm.ac.in

Abstract
The economy of the steel truss girder bridge superstructure, used extensively in medium and long span ranges, is affected by many
factors such as the cost of material, dictated by the configuration and depth of truss, shape and size of members, and cost of
fabrication. Most conventional methods of optimization deal with only member optimization assuming only continuous design
variables, leading to designs mathematically feasible, but not necessarily practical. Genetic Algorithms (GA) can deal with mixed
design variable problem, complex design domain requirement, complex constraint equations as well as objective function and hence
lead to optimal feasible designs. The objective of the paper is to demonstrate the efficient integration of GA for optimization with a
software in object-oriented environment to design large scale truss bridge superstructure for railway loadings. The GA has been
linked to a structural design module, consisting of design rules (Indian Railway Standard and Bridge Rules), design methodology and
Finite Element Analysis (FEA). The objective function to be minimized is the total costs of the structural system. The paper gives the
details of the software and discusses the results obtained.
Key Words Computer-aided integrated design, Genetic algorithms, Object-oriented analysis and design, Optimization, Steel truss
girder bridge.
1. Introduction
The desire to improve a design without compromising the structural integrity has been a strong driving force behind the development
of various optimum design methods. Large volume of optimal structural design based on many optimization techniques has been
carried out in civil, mechanical, electrical, aerospace and other engineering fields. But the research reported in last three to four
decades have not had much impact in the field of civil engineering due to the following main reasons:

Majority of the optimal design methods deal with only for member size or configuration optimization not considering various
topology, continuous and discrete variables in the design etc.

Many optimal design methods based on numerical algorithms, use gradient information on response quantities as well as
constraints functions. Convergence is checked using this information, often leading to a local optimal solution or numerical
instability

Often optimum design may not be practical, since it has been difficult to represent such practical constraints in most typical
optimization techniques.

The mathematical complexity of the numerical optimization algorithms is another reason. In order to simplify the problem only
weight of the structure is often considered in the objective function, disregarding the effect of other factors, such as cost of
fabrication etc.
These observations point to the direction in which research and development activities in structural optimization should proceed, to
evolve methodologies useful for the engineering design profession, and at the same time bring about cost effective designs.
Steel truss girders have been used successfully in the intermediate and long span railway and highway bridges, since the internal
forces in the members are essentially only tensile or compressive. However mathematical representation of the design problem is
complex. The economy of the steel truss girder bridge superstructure is affected by many factors such as cost of fabrication, in
addition to weight of material used. Further, strength of compression members depends upon its slenderness ratio. The members may
be made up of standard rolled sections, built up using rolled sections with plates or using only plates. The design parameters defining
member dimensions (breadth, depth and thickness of the elements of the cross section) configuration and topology are a combination
of continuous and discrete variables. Most of conventional methods of optimization can not deal with the complexity of the practical
optimum design problem leading to only mathematically feasible but not practical solutions. By using GA, which can deal with the
mixed design variable problem, complex design domain requirement as well as complex constraint equations and objective function,
one can arrive at optimal feasible designs both from the mathematical as well as the practical point of view. This paper demonstrates
use of GA for solving optimum design of steel truss girder superstructure design. The GA based optimization is in an objectoriented design paradigm. Details of GA and OOM implementation are reviewed and a sample result is presented.
2. Structural Optimization using Genetic Algorithms
The basic principles of GA were presented by Goldberg [4]. Jenkins [5] demonstrated structural optimization using the genetic
algorithm. Rajeev et al [11] worked on discrete optimization of structures using genetic algorithms. Adeli [1] integrated genetic
algorithm for optimization of space structures. The layout and sizing optimization of a typical steel roof using GAs was done by
Koumousis et al [6]. Ohsaki [9] proposed a global search algorithm for topology optimization of trusses based on the genetic
algorithms. Galante [3] applied GAs to optimize real-world trusses and transmission line towers. Rajeev et al [12] presented
improved two phase method and variable string length genetic algorithm (VGA) for size, configuration and topology optimization of
truss bridges. Design optimization of reinforced concrete plane frames using genetic algorithmbased methodology was presented by
Rajeev [13]. Erbatur et al. [2] used genetic algorithms as the optimizer for the discrete optimal design of planar and space structures.
Krishnamoorthy [7] illustrated typical applications of GAs to practical design of structural systems such as steel trusses, towers,
bridges, reinforced concrete frames, shells and layout planning of buildings. The object-oriented design and implementation of a core

genetic algorithm library consisting of all of the genetic operators with an interface to a generic objective function were discussed by
Krishnamoorthy et al. [8]. Renner [10] gave an overview of applications of genetic algorithms to different domains of engineering
design. Sivakumar et al. [14] presented a new approach for the optimization of steel lattice towers by combining genetic algorithms
and an object-oriented approach.
Literature clearly indicates that Genetic Algorithms have proved to be one of the most efficient and robust optimization
techniques for single as well as multi-objective optimization problems. The objective of almost all optimization studies is to
minimize the cost. None of the studies consider the truss girder configurations as design variables and all the other complexities of
truss girder design mentioned earlier. Genetic Algorithms, which can deal with combination of continuous and discrete design
variables, can be used to achieve the objective very effectively and efficiently. Hence in the present study, which comprises the
optimization of steel truss girder superstructures on railway bridges, Genetic Algorithms has been chosen as the optimization tool.
The problem of system optimization requires a consideration of elements of the system, all design variables and constraint
equations simultaneously. Whereas, the Object-Oriented Methodology represents the design space as a collection of nearly
independent object modules. The difficulty in reconciling with these two extremes might be a reason for the existence of a few
applications of GAs based optimization procedures in an Object-Oriented environment. In the present work, details of a user-friendly
software for structural optimization of steel truss bridge superstructure in an integrated GAs and object-oriented environment is
presented. This software can be used to perform both conventional and optimal design of steel bridge girder superstructure.
3. Simple Genetic Algorithms
Genetic algorithms, based on the mechanics of natural selection and natural genetics, combine Darwins theory of evolution based on
survival of the fittest and a systematic information exchange guided by random operators to form a robust search procedure. They
simulate, artificially, the concept of survival of the fittest, wherein the genetic operators abstracted from nature form the basis of a
search mechanism, which is indifferent to the complex nature of the search space. A simple genetic algorithm (SGA) that has been
successfully used in many applications, illustrates the concepts and working of a typical genetic algorithm. SGA uses three genetic
operators: reproduction, crossover and mutation.
The simple genetic algorithms are flexible, robust and stable. Complexity of a problem does not affect the optimization process
in the codified SGA space. While most other methods of optimization process a single point in the search space, genetic algorithms
pursue a population of potential solutions simultaneously in the search space of complicated structure thus exploiting a built-in
tendency to find global optima. SGA can also be used beyond parameter optimization, for creative topology generation.
3.1 Transforming the Phenospace to Genospace
GAs work in a different world, created through a coding scheme in which the different variables are coded (generally to binary form)
and concatenated to form one long string, representing a point in the design space. The genetic operations are done on this coded
string, which acts as the medium for the structured information exchange. There are two different cases for coding a variable,
depending on whether the variable is continuous or discrete. If a variable is coded into a binary string of length n, then a total of N =
2n variations of the variable are possible. The value of a continuous variable, W, can be decoded as:
(1)
W =W L + DS
Where, WL is the lower bound on the variable W, D is the integer equivalent of the variable in the binary string and S the step size for
variable W defined as:

(W

W L
(2)
N
The value of the discrete design variables, corresponding to integer D in the binary string is obtained as the Dth value in the ordered
set (S).
S = {S0 , S1, S2 ,.........S D ,................S N 1 }
(3)
S=

3.2 Fitness Determination


The fitness of a chromosome reflects its ability to survive and reproduce. In the case of maximization problems, the fitness must be
directly related to the objective function value and in the case of minimization problems, the fitness must be inversely related to the
objective function value.
GAs search unconstrained objective function space. Many practical problems contain one or more constraints that must be
satisfied. The constrained optimization problem is transformed to an unconstrained problem by associating a penalty function with all
constraint violations to obtain an augmented objective function (faug) and fitness (Fi) as given below
f aug = C (1 + k Cv )
(4)

Fi = f max + f min f aug

(5)

Where C = Objective function; K = penalty factor; Cv = the sum of values of all violated constraints; fmax, fmin = maximum, minimum
value of augmented objective function in a generation.
3.3 Convergence Checking
In an ideal situation, all the individuals in the population will attain the same best fitness at convergence. But it is very difficult to
achieve this in practice. If a specified percentage of individuals attain the same or nearly the same best fitness value, then the genetic
search can be terminated. It means that the character patterns in the specified number of strings have to be the same. Generally, a
value of 70 to 90 % of the population reaching the best fitness is assumed as convergence. The best solution of each generation is
compared with already stored best solution up to the previous generation. If it is found to be more fit, then the present best solution
replaces the stored best solution. Once convergence is reached, the best solution is printed to a file as the optimal solution.

3.4 Genetic Operators


A simple genetic algorithm that yields good results in many practical problems is composed of three operators: reproduction,
crossover and mutation. We work with a fixed population size, which is determined by the size of the problem and the desired
diversity. The members of the first generation population are randomly initialized within the bounds of the design space and from
there on, the genetic operations are carried out on the population.
Reproduction: Reproduction operation is the process by which, the rules of survival of the fittest are employed so that fit members of
the population have the greatest probability to combine to generate the next generation, while the unfit members die away. There are
different methods to select members of the population combining to contribute to the next generation namely: roulette wheel
selection, stochastic remainder with replacement selection, and stochastic remainder without replacement selection, deterministic
selection, tournament selection and part sum selection procedure.
Crossover: It is done so as to mix good genetic components that may be spread across different members of the population to
generate possibly more fit members of the next generation. A pair of individuals is selected randomly to form matches for crossover.
Cross-sites are selected along the length of the strings representing the individuals. Crossover is performed by swapping sub-strings
defined by the cross-sites, which generates offsprings (Fig. 1). The swapping is done based on the prespecified probability of
crossover (pc).
Mutation: The primary objective of mutation (Fig. 2) is to keep the diversity in the population. It consists of alteration of character
values in individual strings based on prespecified probability (pm).

Parents:

111111111111
000000000000

Crossover:

111111111111
000000000000

Children:

111111110000
000000001111

Before
101110010110
101110110110
After

Fig. 1 Crossover

Fig. 2 Mutation

4. System Description
The superstructure of through type of steel truss railway bridge (Fig. 3) consists of two planes of trusses that are separated to carry
single railway lines. The rail track is laid on sleepers supported by simply supported stringers. The stringers are connected to the
cross girders. The main truss supports the cross girders at the level of the bottom chord at the nodal point. The top and bottom chord
are designed to resist resultant bending moment and the diagonals to resist the shear at the section. The two planes of trusses are
connected through cross girders and bracing at the top and bottom. The top lateral bracing along with the top chords of main trusses
form a horizontal truss system supported by end portals, which carries wind load. In addition to transmitting the wind loads, the top
lateral system also serves as lateral support to compression (top) chords against out of vertical plane buckling. There are horizontal
bracings at the bottom chord level that transfer wind loads, transverse racking, longitudinal braking and tracking forces due to the
railway traffic.

Fig. 3 Skeleton of a Through Type Steel Truss Railway Bridge Superstructure


The end and intermediate portal bracing is provided in through bridges in the plane of the end posts and intermediate plane. The
sway bracing is generally placed in each panel and made as deep as the clearance will allow. The function of the sway bracing is to
stiffen the structure laterally and to maintain a rectangular cross-section. The connections in bridge trusses occur at the truss nodes

where the web members are connected to the chord members concentrically. This connection usually incorporates also splice in the
chord members. Further, the cross girder and the bracing systems also connect to the truss at the junction. Site connections can be
made by riveting or bolting using High Strength Friction Grip (HSFG) bolts or welding. Good site welds are difficult to achieve
where access is difficult and fatigue life of welded joints is lower than that of riveted or HSFG bolted joints. Indian Railways uses
only riveted joints and hence only riveted site connection between members is included in this study. Generally trusses have rigid
joints due to many rivets in the joint. Computer analysis can account for the joint stiffness and the consequent secondary moments by
treating the joints as rigid. The design for primary axial loads and the secondary moments is done using suitable interaction formulae.
The major loads and forces to be considered while designing a steel truss girder bridge superstructure include dead load, live load,
dynamic effects, forces due to curvature and eccentricity of track, longitudinal force, racking force, wind load, and earthquake forces.
The working stress method currently used in the Indian railways is followed as the design methodology.
5. Finite Element Analysis of Steel Truss Rail Bridges
A finite element modeling and analysis software is exclusively developed, for the analysis of steel truss girder railway bridges by
modifying the PASSFEM software. All the elements in the truss system are modeled as beam elements, so that secondary moments
due to rigid joints, lateral bending of verticals due to lateral loads are also evaluated in the analysis. Truss girder model is analyzed
for various load combinations and the governing design forces and moments are listed in the output file for designing the entire truss
system.
6. Bridge Design System (BDS)
The Bridge Design System (BDS), developed in the present work, is an integrated software capable of analysis, design and design
documentation of steel truss railway bridges. Schematic of the software (BDS) is shown in Fig. 4. It can handle both conventional as
well as optimal design of bridge superstructures, according to the desire of the user. The BDS is composed mainly of four
components, namely, Master Module, FEA Module, Optimization Module, and Data Retrieval Module.

Data Base
Input (GUI)
GA
Controller
FEA
DRS

Master Module
Fitness
Evaluation

GA
Operators

Display Output

Fig. 4 Software (BDS) Architecture


6.1 Master Module
The entire bridge design system is implemented in an object-oriented fashion in the Master Module. This module controls the design
process. The master module has a set of Graphical User Interface (GUI) through which the user interacts with the software both to
give input data as well as to review output. All the user-defined inputs and controls are given through the GUI. The master module is
responsible for the finite element modeling, analysis and conventional design of steel truss girder railway bridge superstructure. The
master module interacts with the optimization module for the optimal design of steel truss girder superstructure deck. The master
module shares data as well as methods with the optimization module to make the software more efficient with minimum code size.
During the design process, the master module documents the whole design in to a file as normally presented in professional design
document. The design document thus generated can be used for manual design crosscheck as well as detailing of the steel truss
girder superstructure.
6.2 FEA Module
The FEA module models the three dimensional truss girder superstructure using beam elements (for main members) as well as truss
elements (for bracings). This modeling is automated with only span of truss girder, number of panels and type of truss configuration
as input. This module interfaces with PASSFEM program to analyze the truss girder for various load combinations, considering
secondary bending. The analysis result is documented in to an output file so that the governing design forces and secondary moments
of truss girder members can used for the conventional design as well as optimal design of steel truss girder superstructure.

6.3 Optimization Module


The optimization module uses Genetic Algorithms (GA) as the optimization algorithm. This module consists of mainly three parts
namely, GA controller, GA operators, and fitness evaluator as shown in Fig 4. The function of GA controller is to guide the GA
process with the implicit knowledge it possesses. The implicit knowledge is used to fix up variable bounds as well as GA control
parameters. For example if the user gives some infeasible bounds for the design variables and inappropriate values for GA control
parameters, the search process will be affected and it leads to uneconomical and even infeasible solutions. Thus the main function of
the GA controller is the error handling based on the implicit knowledge. GA operations are the core part of the GA process. The
working of genetic algorithms is shown in Fig. 5. The following are the steps:
1. The initial population is generated.
2. The fitness is evaluated using the fitness evaluator.
3. If the population has not converged, GA operations such as reproduction, crossover, and mutation are carried out.
4. The steps 2 and 3 are repeated till convergence occurs.
For evaluating the fitness, the fitness evaluator uses the functions in the design procedure in the master module. The GA process
interacts with master module in each and every generation. Once the convergence occurs, the optimal values of the design variables
are supplied to master module, which in turn performs conventional design check using the output data, for documentation purpose.
Initial Population

Best
Solution

GeneticAlgorithms

Yes

Convergence

Decode

Cross-over

Master Module

Interface
void GenerateInitialPop( );
void Decode( );
void ObjectiveFunction( );
void Reproduce( );
void Crossover( );
void Mutation( );
void Replace( );
void CheckConvergence( );

No

Reproduction

Interface

int *PopSize;
float *RealValues;
float Fitness;
float CumFitness;

Fitness
Evaluation

Ranking

Mutation

FEA Module
(PASSFEM)

GA Operators

Fig. 5 Working of Genetic Algorithms

Fig. 6 Object-Oriented Implementation of Genetic Algorithms

The optimization module is implemented entirely in object oriented environment with the GA process implemented using the
concepts of object oriented method. The core GA attributes and methods, which are independent of the problem domain, are
completely encapsulated and the access to the GA process from outside is given only through a well-defined interface. The features
available in object-oriented models such as aggregation make the interface implementation easier. Fig. 6 shows the schematic
diagram, representing the object-oriented implementation of GA process. Object-oriented implementation of GAs as methods in a
class by abstracting the problem-independent genetic operations part and the problem-dependent function evaluation part has enabled
effective encapsulation, inheritance and better memory management.
6.4 Data Retrieval System (DRS)
The static data containing the code provisions such as the allowable stresses and standard as a steel section properties are stored in a
relational database. The DRS is an object-oriented layer over relational database which enables the system to access data during run
time. The Open Data Base Connectivity (ODBC) is used as the methodology. The main component of DRS is a set of ODBC derived
classes. These classes are connected to database, and to another intermediate set of classes, which are connected to the master
module. The schematic view of the DRS is shown in Fig. 7.

Database
(MS Access)

ODBC
Derived
Classes
(from MFC)

Intermediate Classes
(Contains retrieving
functions)

Master
Module

IRSCodeDatabase
HotRolledSteelSections
Data Retrieval System (DRS)

Fig. 7 Data Retrieval System (DRS)


Four specifications have been included in the database under design standards: three railway codes (Steel Bridge Code, 1977;
Bridge Rules, 1964; and Bridge Substructures and Foundation Code, 1985) and a part of wind code (IS: 875 (Part 3), 1987). The

static data repository (MS Access) stores the basic steel section properties given in SP: 6(1) (1964). The IRSCodeData database in
MS Access consists of totally 22 tables in which 13 tables are for the standard loading of modified broad gauge which are given in
IRS Bridge Rules and the remaining tables are for the allowable compressive stresses governed by slenderness ratio, allowable
tensile stresses governed by fatigue and allowable bending compressive stresses as governed by lateral buckling.
7. Optimal Design Formulations of Steel Truss Girder Superstructures
The design variables, objective function, a set of constraints that define the limits on the design problem have to be identified.
7.1 Genetic Design Model
The genetic algorithms are implemented in object-oriented programming language (C++) because it has rich string manipulation
functions, and offers powerful techniques for data structuring, which is essential for effective representation and efficient processing
of information. The inputs required to the program are of two types: the parameters which control the GA search, such as population
size, crossover and mutation probabilities, convergence parameter etc., and problem specific data. The genetic parameters are given
through a dialog box, whereas, problem specific data is read from files. A detailed description of genetic modeling of steel truss
girder railway bridges is given below.
The cost of the through type truss girder superstructure is to be optimized. Typically, cost is a function of total structural weight.
Cost of connection is the other major factor that affects the cost of the structure. In the optimal design process, the topology, shape
and cross-sectional parameters of the members of the superstructure are arrived at appropriately, so that the weight of the structure is
minimal. All the members of the superstructure are built-up sections using plates of different thicknesses. Different topologies are
generally obtained by varying the number of panels and the one type of web pattern to be used in all panels, from among different
patterns (fig. 8).
Genetic modeling consists of defining an individual string to represent a design and a corresponding coding, decoding scheme.
The members of the structure are classified as stringers, cross girders, top chords, bottom chords, diagonals, verticals, portal girders,
sway girders, bottom chord bracings and top chord bracings. It is not economical to have the same cross-sectional dimensions for all
the members of the class, particularly in the case of the top chord, bottom chord and web members. An adaptive member grouping
strategy is implemented that groups members automatically during the evolution process. The members of top chords, bottom chords,
diagonals and verticals having different dimensions are chosen from the possible alternate sections that are normally used in the
conventional design process. A number of different cross-sectional shapes are possible for each member. But the shape of the cross
section of the member within each class is kept the same for all members belonging to same type, although dimensions may be
changed. From aesthetical considerations and joint fabrications considerations, usually overall dimensions of the chord member are
maintained constant over the entire length and only thickness of the elements are changed. In addition to the chord members and web
members group, there is one group each for end diagonal, stringers, cross girders, portal girder, sway girder, bottom lateral bracings
and top lateral bracings. Thus different members to be designed are identified. Similarly, different web configurations are identified
to arrive at optimum truss girder during the evolution process.
Member grouping is treated as a two-step process. Initial member grouping is done with same section for all top chord members
and so also for web members and bottom chord members. The web configuration is also fixed and a preliminary finite element
analysis is carried out and then fitness is evaluated. Next generation onwards, a regrouping which has different sections for different
members is done dynamically and the genetic design evolves over a number of generations. Every generation, the genetic operations
take place and the evolution process continues till convergence occurs. Generally, a value of 70 to 90 % of the population reaching
the best fitness is assumed as convergence. Convergence parameter is taken as the percentage of the population in the generation
having the design variables corresponding to the best fit function.

(a) Warren Truss

(d) Pratt Truss with Subdivided Ties

(b) Pratt Truss

(c) Pratt Truss with


Subdivided Struts

(e) Warren Truss with Subdivided Members

(f) K Truss

Fig. 8 Web Configurations for Truss Girder Bridges


7.2 Design Variables
The success of an optimization problem depends on the identification of design variables properly. The design variables contribute
mainly to the total cost. The design variables should be selected such that they completely represent the design space and contribute
to the objective function. The design variables should be independent of each other. The sensitivity of the selected design variables
also plays an important role in the final convergence to the optimal solution. As the number of design variables increases, and as the
equations become nonlinear the complexity of the optimization problem also increases. Most mathematical optimization techniques
become cumbersome and even fail due to their inability to handle complex design space with a large number of mixed type design

variables.. GA can handle discrete, integer, real and boolean design variable with equal ease. The sizing design variables considered
in this study are either cross-sectional dimensions using continuous variable for lateral dimensions and discrete design variables for
thickness. The standard cross section is described in terms of integer pointing to a row in a table of available cross sections. A
boolean variable is used to specify parallel chord system and non parallel chord system. Table 1 shows the design variables
corresponding to the steel truss girder superstructure optimization problem.
Table 1 Linking of Design Variables (DV) and the Physical Meaning
Physical Meaning
DV Type in GA
Note
Indicates whether Parallel Chord
Truss Configuration
Boolean
or Non Parallel Chord System
Standard
Cross
Section,
Integer
Search through a given table
Thickness selection
Plate Width,
Varies between upper and lower
Real
Joint Coordinates
bounds

Optimization
Truss System
Sizing
Shape

A typical truss configuration used in Indian Railway (Fig. 9) is taken for illustrating member grouping, selection of cross
sections, identification of continuous and discontinuous variables, choice of different bracing patterns and their influence on the
string length used to represent the design variables.
T1
V1

T2

D1

B1

V2

T3
V3

D2

B2

D3

B3

V4

B4

8 Panels

Fig. 9 Typical Truss Configuration


There are three different top chord member, four bottom chord member, three diagonals and four vertical members, taking
advantage of symmetry. The shape of the member is kept the same for members belonging to the same type. In addition to this, there
is one group each for each type of end diagonal, stringers, cross girders, portal girder, sway girder, bottom lateral bracings and top
lateral bracings. Thus 21 different member groups are identified for this particular problem. Number of different possible shapes
exists for each type of members (Fig. 10). A discrete variable for representing a cross section of each member in the truss girder such
as top chords, bottom chords, end diagonals, diagonals, verticals, portal girders, sway girders, top lateral bracings and bottom lateral
bracings is used in the genetic model. Thus up to 9 discrete variables are needed to represent the shape of the cross section.
W

W
b2

t1

t2

t3

t2

W
b

t2

t1

t2

t2
b

(b) Bottom Chords 4, 5


t1

t1

t1

t2
b

(a) Top Chords and End Diagonals 1, 2, 3


W

t1

t2 D
b

b1

t3

t1

t1

t1

t2
b

9
t2

6
(c) Diagonals and Verticals 6, 7, 8

(d) Portal Girders and


Sway Girders - 9

10

11

12

(e) Lateral Bracings- 10, 11, 12

Fig. 10 Shapes Considered for Different Welded Members with ID Numbers


The thicknesses of plates (10mm, 12mm, 14mm, 16mm, 18mm, 20mm, 22mm, 25mm, 28mm, 32mm, 36mm, 40mm, etc.) to be
used are stored sequentially in a discrete set database. From the fabrication and aesthetic point of view, it is required to keep a few
parameters constant throughout the bridge. The possible web bracings are also numbered to be represented as discrete variables. For
instance, width of all the main members (top and bottom chords) is generally kept constant so as to be able to connect them properly
to gusset plate. Similarly depth of all top chord members is kept same so also the depth of all bottom chord members. Depth of
diagonals and verticals then depends on the width of bottom and top chord members and thicknesses of gusset plate used. The details
of an individual string are given in Table 2. For continuous design variable values sixty four (26) possibilities are considered, whereas
for discrete design variable values eight (23) possibilities are considered. Coding scheme is illustrated in Fig. 11.

Table 2 Composition of Individual Strings


Total Bit Size
No of Variables
Continuous
Discrete
Continuous
1
1
1
1
6
1
3
6
1
6
1
2
6
1
3
6
2
2
12
1
2
6
1
2
6
1
2
6
1
1

Member Groups
Web Configuration
Shape of Sections
Members Width (W)
Top Chords
D
b & ti
Bottom Chords
D
b & ti
End Diagonals
b & ti
Diagonals
D, b & ti
Verticals
b & ti
Portal Girder
d, ti
Sway Girder
d, ti
Top Lateral Bracings
Bottom Lateral Bracings
Total string length

Discrete

No
of
Groups
9

6
9
6
6
3
3
3
3

4
1
3
4
1
1
1
1

Sub-string
Length
3
27
6
6
45
6
48
15
54
48
9
9
3
3
282

Note: 6 bits for continuous variable and 3 bits for discrete variables
1

Substringlength(3)

Substringlength (6)

n-1 n
1 n Continuous variables

m-1 m
1 m Discrete variables

p-1 p

3
1 p Population size

Fig. 11 Illustration of Coding Scheme


7.3 Objective Function
In the present study, the aim is to minimize the cost expressed as the objective function. The total cost of superstructure comprises
material costs and fabrication costs. Joints costs depend upon the number of joints, the number of members joining at the node and
the forces to be transferred at the joint. In the present study, various web bracing configuration is considered in the genetic evolution
process. The constrained form of the optimization problem can be formulated as
n j nmj
Nm

MinimizeC = Ai li C st + C r
(6)
j =1r =1
i =1

Subject to the following constraints:

Material strength, buckling strength as well as fatigue strength limit.

Deflection limit.
Where C = objective function; Ai, li and = area, length and weight density of the ith member, respectively; Cst = cost of steel per
kN; nmj = number of members meeting at the nodes and Cr = cost of joining each member depending upon its force.
The objective of the optimum design problem is to minimize the total cost of the superstructure, which is represented by Eq. 6.
7.4 Constraints
An optimal solution is the best solution among a set of feasible solutions, which satisfy all the constraints imposed upon them. In
Genetic Algorithm based optimal design process, the constraints can be implicit constraints or explicit constraints.

The implicit constraints on the design variables can be represented by choosing appropriate values for the lower and upper
bounds on the design variables.

Explicit Constraints are basically functional constraints, which are evaluated based on the design variables. In the present study,
explicit constraints are imposed on material strength, buckling strength as well as fatigue strength limit and deflection limit.
Further, the unsupported projection of any plate, measured from its edge to the line of rivets, bolts or weld connecting the plate
to other parts of the section is limited to 16 t for steel conforming to IS : 226 and IS : 2062 and 14 t for steel conforming to IS :
961. The IRS Steel Bridge Code specifies maximum slenderness ratio limits for compression members, tension members and
bracing systems. Theses limits become constraints in the respective member design.
The genetic algorithms can be used for optimizing unconstrained objective functions. In this implementation of GA the constrained
problem is converted into unconstrained problem, using penalty function, to obtain an augmented objective function and fitness
values, as given below:
f aug = C (1 + Pc )
(7)

) (

Pc = (C stress Ps ) + C deflection Pd + C implicit Pi

))

(8)

Where faug = Augmented Objective Function; C = Objective function given by Eq. 6; Pc = Total penalized constraints violations;
Cstress, Cdeflection and Cimplicit = stress, defection and implicit constraint violations respectively; and Ps, Pd and Pi = penalty factors for
stress constraints, deflection constraints and implicit constraints, respectively.
To evaluate the fitness, Fi, of a solution, the value of the augmented objective function has to be subtracted from a large number.
Usually this large number is taken as the sum of the maximum and minimum objective function values in the population (Eq. 9).
Fi = f max + f min f aug ,i
(9)

Weight (kN)

Where fmax, fmin = maximum, minimum value of augmented objective function in a generation.
The optimal design of the truss bridge in Fig. 9 is carried out using the Genetic Algorithms module assuming the same truss
configuration as in standard design and optimizing only member dimension (BDS Optimal Design I). The Genetic parameters used
for the optimal design of steel truss girder superstructure had a population size = 300, probability of crossover = 0.8, probability of
mutation = 0.002, penalty function coefficient = 1. The tournament selection process and single point crossover have been used for
arriving at the optimal design. The optimal design output of the software for a steel truss girder superstructure having a span length of
47.24 m is compared with the standardized design of Research Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO). Sections obtained
based on optimum design are compared with RDSO
sections in Table 3. The total weight of steel is
Comp arison of Weight of Steel
compared and shown in Fig. 12. It is seen that
optimally designed truss bridge weighs less by around
700
25 % (Fig. 12, BDS Optimal Design I).
In addition to 25 % reduction in steel costs,
600
possibly an improvement of another 5 to 10 % costs
500
may result if fabrication costs of members, joints costs
and changing web bracing configurations could be
400
allowed in the genetic model. However, in order to
300
validate the optimal design obtained from the BDS, the
200
same cross section shape for members and web
configuration adopted in the RDSO design are
100
maintained for the genetic model. The same truss
bridge is optimized by allowing different cross section
0
shape for members, web configuration and number of
RDSO Design
BDS
BDS
Op timal Design I
Op timal Design II
panels. Around 33 % reduction (Fig. 12, BDS Optimal
Design II) in weight is observed when all the design
variables are chosen based on optimization.
Fig. 12 Weight Comparison of Optimal Design with RDSO Design
Description
Stringers
Cross
Girders

Top Chords

Bottom
Chords

Diagonals

Table 3 Comparison of Sections obtained based on Optimum Design and RDSO Sections
ID
W, mm
d, mm
b, mm
t1, mm
t2, mm
BDS
9
720
360
20
10
RDSO
9
750
360
20
10
BDS
9
960
430
22
10
RDSO
9
935
500
20
10
BDS
1
610
520
150
18
16
T1
RDSO
1
642
542
150
20
16
BDS
1
610
520
150
18
16
T2
RDSO
1
642
542
150
20
16
BDS
1
610
520
150
18
16
T3
RDSO
1
642
542
150
20
16
BDS
3
578
490
150
20
20
B1
RDSO
3
610
542
150
25
20
BDS
3
578
490
150
20
20
B2
RDSO
3
610
542
150
25
20
BDS
3
578
490
150
20
20
B3
RDSO
3
610
542
150
25
20
BDS
3
578
490
150
20
20
B4
RDSO
3
610
542
150
25
20
BDS
3
578
400
100
16
16
D1
2 # ISMC 400x100
RDSO
3
610
2 # Inner Plate 150x12
BDS
3
578
400
100
16
16
D2
2 # ISMC 400x100
RDSO
3
610
2 # Inner Plate 150x12
D3
BDS
3
578
400
100
16
16

t3, mm

18
20
18
20
18
20

V1
V2
Verticals
V3
V4
Portal Girders
Sway Girders
Top Lateral Bracings
Bottom Lateral Bracings
Total Weight (kN)

RDSO

610

BDS
RDSO
BDS
RDSO
BDS
RDSO
BDS
RDSO
BDS
RDSO
BDS
RDSO

9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
2 # ISST 150x75x8
BDS
RDSO
BDS
RDSO
BDS
RDSO

2 # ISMC 400x100
2 # Inner Plate 150x12
554
200
12
586
200
12
554
200
12
586
200
12
554
200
12
586
200
12
554
200
12
586
200
12
500
200
10
522
200
10
500
200
10

10
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
10

ISA 150x150x10
ISST 200x165x8
2 # ISA 100x100X8
2 # ISA 100x100x8
435 (25 % lesser than RDSO Design)
583

8. Summary and Conclusions


The paper demonstrates application of GAs for optimum design of truss type Railway bridges. The main thrust of this paper is to
illustrate typical application of GAs to practical design of structural systems such as steel truss girder railway bridge superstructure in
an object oriented implementation of design and optimization codes. In this work binary strings for coding of truss girder design
variables, fitness as a ranking measure of the adaptability to the environment, selection criteria and GA operators such as crossover
and mutation are used to improve the fitness of the population, so that over the generations the genetic algorithm progresses towards
better design variables and at the end converges to the optimum value. A sample problem solved using the software shows
considerably more economical design can be obtained using GA compared to a standard design. There is scope for wider applications
of GAs based methodologies in optimal design of practical structures considering system configuration and member sizes as design
variables.
9. Acknowledgement
This work is supported by DST and RDSO, Ministry of Indian Railways. The presenting author is grateful to University of
Cambridge Department of Engineering, Jesus College Cambridge, and the Gates Cambridge Trust for kindly granting the funding to
attend the congress. These sources of support are gratefully acknowledged.
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