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Proceedings of DETC01

ASME 2001 Design Engineering Technical Conferences

and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
Pittsburgh, PA, September 9-12, 2001



John Eddy Kemper Lewis

Graduate Research Assistant Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Department of Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering Engineering
University at Buffalo Corresponding Author University at Buffalo

Many designers concede that there is typically more than one For example, it may be desirable in a design scenario to reduce
measure of performance for an artifact. Often, a large system two quantities simultaneously (ex. cost and weight). However,
is decomposed into smaller subsystems each having its own set a unit reduction in weight may necessitate an increase in cost
of objectives, constraints, and parameters. The performance of and the designer must then decide if he/she is willing to accept
the final design is a function of the performances of the the tradeoff of increased cost for a reduction in weight.
individual subsystems. It then becomes necessary to consider
the tradeoffs that occur in a multi-objective design problem. Objectives may also be in cooperation with each other,
meaning that improvement of one typically accompanies
The complete solution to a multi-objective optimization improvement of the other. In this case, there is a single
problem is the entire set of non-dominated configurations superior design and tradeoffs do not occur. The third
commonly referred to as the Pareto set. Common methods of possibility is that there is no relationship, as is the case if the
generating points along a Pareto frontier involve repeated objectives have no variables in common. The later two cases
conversion of multi-objective problems into single objective are less interesting than the first and are therefore not
problems using weights. These methods have been shown to considered further in this paper.
perform poorly when attempting to populate a Pareto frontier.
This work presents an efficient means of generating a thorough When multiple competing objectives exist, the optimum is no
spread of points along a Pareto frontier using genetic longer a design point but an entire set of non-dominated design
programming. points. This set is commonly referred to as the Pareto set [1].
The Pareto set is composed of Pareto optimal solutions. A
KEYWORDS feasible design variable vector, x, is Pareto optimal if and
Genetic Algorithms, Heuristic Optimization, Multi-Objective
Optimization. MOGA, Pareto Frontiers only if there is no feasible design variable vector, x , with the
Engineering design problems commonly require consideration f i ( x) f i ( x) for all i, i =1, n (1)
of more than one measure of performance or objectives. The
f i ( x ) < f i ( x ) for at least one i, 1 Ln
objectives in a multi-objective design problem may relate
differently to one another. Two objectives may be in where n is the number of objectives.
competition, meaning that improvement of one typically comes
at the expense of the other. Tradeoffs must be considered
when exploring a problem of this nature.

1 Copyright 2001 by ASME

The primary issue addressed in this paper is how to improve have employed other heuristic techniques that do not require
design concepts in a multiobjective framework. Specifically, conversion to single objectives.
how can a Pareto frontier be efficiently and thoroughly
populated? Messac and Sundararaj [8] employ Physical Programming to
generate a distribution of points along the Pareto frontier.
Common methods of generating points along a Pareto frontier Physical Programming is an optimization method that does not
involve repeated conversion of multi-objective problems into rely on weights, but uses designer preferences in the form of
single objective problems. These methods have been shown to metric classes in the optimization process. The Interactive
perform poorly when attempting to populate a Pareto frontier Sequential Hybrid Optimization Technique (I-SHOT)
for many types of problems. developed by Narayanan and Azarm [9] is another technique
for finding Pareto points. It allows the user to interact at each
Common pitfalls of weighted sum methods include: iteration to help specialize the solution process. It is carried
inability to generate a uniform sampling of a out by repeated application of a simple genetic algorithm. The
frontier [2, 3]; advantage of this method is that each iteration generates a
inability to generate points in non-convex portions Pareto solution that is not overly close to a previous solution.
of a frontier [4, 5]; The disadvantage of this type of method is that it typically
a non-intuitive relationship between combinatorial requires a huge number of function evaluations to populate the
parameters (weights, etc.) and performances; and Pareto Frontier. Some of the tradeoffs in multiobjective
poor efficiency (can require an excessive number of optimization using operators with and within genetic
function evaluations). algorithms are discussed in Azarm, Reynolds, & Narayanan
A great deal of effort has been put into overcoming these
pitfalls. The approach taken in this paper for solving multi- The Niched Pareto genetic algorithm presented in Horn,
objective problems involves the use of genetic programming. Nafpliotis, & Goldberg [11] is a MOGA that uses tournament
We present a multiobjective genetic algorithm (MOGA) selection of a design versus a random sample of the current
tailored such that the entire Pareto frontier is sought in a single population. Two individuals are selected for reproduction and
optimization run without repeated conversion from a multi- each is compared to the population sample. The design that
objective to single objective problem. outperforms the other in the tournament is selected for
reproduction. In addition to using the objective functions as a
Having presented a brief discussion of the nature of multi- measure of fitness, a niche count is kept in each area of the
objective optimization problems, Section 1.1 presents some performance (criterion) space. If the niche count is high in a
background on means of solving these problems, Section 1.2 region, a design in that region is at a disadvantage to a design
provides some detailed information regarding the specific in a region of low niche count. This is done to encourage a
genetic algorithm used for this work, and Section 2 includes wide spread of the Pareto frontier. The metric used to quantize
two case studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of the the niche pressure as a function of niche count can be set by
multiobjective genetic algorithm developed in this work. the user and has a profound effect on the optimization. Some
empirical evidence generated by Horn et. al. [11] suggests that
too much pressure results in convergence on a small portion of
2 TECHNICAL BACKGROUND the entire frontier while too little pressure results in a large
number of dominated solutions in the final population (recall
2.1 Multi-Objective Solution Techniques from above that at selection time, designs are compared to
Because weighted sum methods have difficulty in finding and only a random sample of the population, not the entire thing).
generating Pareto frontiers, many researchers have turned to
other methods to generate Pareto frontiers. A straightforward Other measures of fitness are used within GAs to facilitate the
approach is to apply a grid search algorithm, as employed to generation of Pareto points. Balling [12] utilizes a maxmin
develop Pareto frontiers in vehicle dynamics simulation formulation that takes a minimum value of normalized
problems [6]. The Normal Boundary Intersection (NBI) objectives and maximizes it over all the possible designs in the
method [7] also overcomes many difficulties associated with current generation. This fitness function will generate non-
the weighted sums. The NBI generates evenly spaced Pareto dominated designs. Other ranking schemes have also been
points for an even spread of weights, and the spacing of the proposed [13, 14], but ranking does not provide a way to
points is independent of the relative scaling of the objectives. quantitatively measure the difference in Pareto-optimality.
NBI is not limited to bi-objective problems, and is primarily
used for tracing the Pareto frontier. Many other researchers Because of the success of genetic algorithms as effective
approaches to generating Pareto frontiers, in this paper we
present a MOGA catered specifically for multiobjective

2 Copyright 2001 by ASME

problems by taking advantage of a novel fitness function,
clone testing, and introductions of epidemics. Section 1.2 We have incorporated the basic components of reproduction
presents a discussion of genetic algorithms and some details and selection in our Genetic Algorithm. They are presented
regarding the specific implementation used here. and described in the following paragraphs.

2.2 Genetic Algorithms in Optimization Generation of an Initial Population

Genetic Algorithms were originally developed to imitate the The initial population is simply a collection of designs with
processes by which living beings evolve [15]. Nearly all design variable values taken as random numbers between the
design methodologies incorporate the concept of evolving design variable bounds. Each design is tested to be sure that it
designs. Even designers who do not subscribe to a is unique to encourage diversity amongst the initial population.
methodology typically evolve their designs by trial and error.
Clone Testing
Genetic Algorithms are most useful for problems involving An efficient algorithm for duplicate design point detection is
multi-modal design spaces. The fact that they do not consider available with this GA. This is useful for 4 reasons.
any gradient information makes it possible for the algorithm to
move between the peaks of a multi-modal space. A gradient- 1. To avoid design point re-evaluation.
based optimizer would typically remain within a single mode 2. To encourage design space exploration.
throughout the solution process likely resulting in a highly 3. To avoid wasting memory to store duplicate
suboptimal solution. A suboptimal solution is also possible design point information, and
when using a GA in a multi-modal space but it is less likely. It 4. To avoid premature convergence in a suboptimal
is also likely to get closer to the true optimal than the solution mode.
given by the gradient-based optimizer.
Each new design is tested to see that it is unique amongst
One major focus of our work is on computational efficiency every other design evaluated during the optimization run
both in memory usage and computational time. We have (including those that were discarded).
tailored our Genetic Algorithm accordingly. In the following
paragraphs, we describe the operators for our GA along with Evaluation of Design Fitness
some of the methods we have employed to help ensure A set of objective function values must be computed for each
computational efficiency. design. The form of the functions is not important to the
algorithm. Either calls to other software packages or actual
Binary Encoding analytical functions are suitable.
Each design variable is represented as a single 32 bit signed
integer value within the computer. Therefore, 30 bits are Constraints are computed for each design and used to penalize
available for genetic encoding. The desired decimal precision infeasible designs at selection and replacement time. A value
for each design variable is input by the user. Floating point is stored for each design that indicates how infeasible it is. The
numbers are converted to integers by multiplying by 10prec(i) value is computed as shown in Equation 2 (L2 norm).
where prec(i) is the desired decimal precision of the ith design
variable. An array of 30 short integers for genetic encoding m l
would require at least 60 bytes or 240 bits compared to 4 bytes D= {max[0, g
j =1
j ( x)]}2 + | hk ( x) | 2
k =1
or 32 bits and accommodations would still be necessary for a
sign and a decimal place.
In equation 2, m is the number of inequality constraints and l is
Another advantage of using the signed integer representation the number of equality constraints. Side constraints are
of design variables is that conversion from a binary handled separately.
representation to a decimal representation requires no code. It
is done at the hardware level, which saves a great deal of Reproduction
computational time. Reproduction is accomplished in three stages. First, a mating
pool is created based on the feasibility metric of Equation 2.
Dynamic Memory Allocation All individuals are represented at least once in the mating
All the arrays in the genetic algorithm are sized at either pool. Individuals with a lower value from Equation 2 are
compile or run time using dynamic memory allocation represented more times in the mating pool making it more
commands according to the problem parameters (number of likely that they will be given an opportunity to reproduce. All
design variables, number of constraints, etc). The alternative Feasible designs are given an equal chance of reproducing.
is to allocate arbitrarily large arrays and perhaps use only a
portion of them. Individuals are randomly chosen from the mating pool. The

3 Copyright 2001 by ASME

number of individuals selected is determined by the size of the is chosen at random and reassigned to a random value within
population, the number of children produced per crossover, the upper and lower bounds for that variable. The number of
and the user input crossover rate. mutations is determined by the number of children, the number
of design variables, and the user input mutation rate.
Two individuals selected for reproduction are chosen as a Insertion of Children into Population
mating pair. Each mating pair can produce any even number Once the children have been created and mutated, the process
of offspring (value input by user). The offspring will be of inserting them into the population begins. This is where the
referred to as children. Two types of crossover are available Pareto dominance of the designs is considered.
in this GA.
If there are infeasible members in the population, then the one
The first is Single Point Uniform Parameterized Crossover with the largest D (from Equation 2) is selected for
[16] and is performed for each design variable as shown in comparison and possible replacement. If the child that it is
Figure 1. being compared to is feasible or has a lesser D, then the child
replaces it. Otherwise, the child is not allowed entrance into
Binary (encoded) Decimal the population. If all members of the population are feasible
Parent 1 11111 11111 1023 and the child is feasible, then the population is searched for a
Parent 2 00000 00000 0 member that is dominated by the child. The function that
performs the search returns the design that is most dominated
by the child. This is done by keeping track of the current
Child 1 11111 00000 992 worst design as it searches and comparing each successive
Child 2 00000 11111 31 design to the current worst.

Figure 1: Single Point Uniform If it is found that the child does not dominate any members of
Parameterized Crossover the population, then a check is run to see if any members of the
population dominate the child. If the child is dominated by a
The vertical line serves as a randomly selected crossover point. member of the population, then it is not permitted entrance
The actual bit switch is accomplished using bitwise logical into the population. If the child is not dominated by any
operators. member of the population, then the population size is
increased and the child is granted entrance.
The second is Arithmetic Crossover and is carried out
according to equations 3 and 4 below. Because of the way new designs are admitted into the
population, a sub-optimal design has a chance of remaining
Child 1 = ( r )( Parent1) + (1 r )( Parent 2) (3) within the population and reproducing for a significant number
Child 2 = (1 r )( Parent1) + ( r )( Parent 2) (4) of generations. This can cause the population size to become
unnecessarily large which significantly affects the speed and
In the above equations, r is U[0,1]. In this way, the children efficiency of the algorithm. Therefore, an additional capability
are the result of a convex combination of the parents [17]. is developed for this work whereby the user can periodically
eliminate all dominated designs from the population. This is
Mutation termed an introduction of an epidemic, as it eliminates all the
Children from the crossover stage are randomly selected for unfit members of a population. The frequency at which
mutation. There are two types of mutation available in this epidemics occur is set by the user. The two parameters that
GA. define the frequency of the epidemics are the Cut-off Point and
the Cut-off Point Adder. The Cut-off Point is the size that the
The first is referred to as random bit mutation. In random bit population must reach before an epidemic is introduced. After
mutation, a design variable is randomly selected, as is a bit an epidemic, the Cut-off Point is incremented by the Cut-off
location for mutation. The selected bit is negated. If it was a 0 Point Adder and the population is allowed to expand to the
it becomes a 1 and vice versa. The number of mutations is new Cut-off Point before another epidemic is introduced.
determined by the number of children created, the total
number of bits making up all the children, and the user input Pareto Set Quality Metrics
mutation rate. Upon completion of the optimization, two quality metrics are
computed for the resulting Pareto set. These quality metrics
The second mutation type is referred to as random design were developed by Wu & Azarm [18] because of the lack of
variable mutation. In this form of mutation, a design variable standard metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of any method to

4 Copyright 2001 by ASME

generate points on a Pareto frontier. The two metrics are third constraint limits the stress in bar BC to no more than
described in the following sections. 100,000 kPa. The three design variables are the cross
sectional areas of bars AC and BC labeled x1 and x2
Distinct Point Metric respectively and the overall height of the truss labeled y. Side
The first metric is the number of distinct choices in the set. To constraints are placed on all three design variables.
compute this metric, the design space is divided into a hyper-
grid. A distinct choice is one that exists alone in a grid
location as in Figure 2. 4m 1m

Pareto Distinct

x1 x2 y

Figure 2: Distinct Point Quality Metric

The grid spacing along each objective in this work is
determined by a user input Cluster Percentage and the range
of objective function values in the population. 100kN

Cluster Metric Figure 3: Truss for Case Study 3

The second metric is the Cluster Metric. This metric gives an
indication of how uniformly spaced the final population is. It
is computed as the number of Pareto points divided by the
number of distinct Pareto points. The target value for the The problem formulation is given below.
cluster metric is 1, which corresponds to a Pareto set in which
every member is distinct. The worst possible value is equal to Minimize:
the number of Pareto points which is the case when all the
points are tightly clustered such that only a single design is
f volume = x1 16 + y 2 + x 2 1 + y 2
considered distinct.

The next section contains two case studies used to verify the 20 16 + y 2
approach presented above. f stress , AC =
All Trials for the following case studies were carried out on a Subject to:
PC with a 600 MHz Pentium III processor and 256 MB of
RAM. g1 ( x, y) f volume 0.1

3.1 Two Bar Truss g 2 ( x, y ) f stress, AC 100,000

This case study involves a multi-objective 2-bar truss problem
adapted from Azarm, Reynolds, & Narayanan [10]. A diagram
of the truss is shown in Figure 3. 80 1 + y 2
g 3 ( x, y ) 100,000
The two objectives in this problem are to minimize the overall
volume of material used and to minimize the stress in bar AC
(see Figure 3). The system is subject to three inequality 1 y 3 (meters)
constraints. The first two are constraints on the objective
function values. They are intended to limit the size of the 0.0001 > x1 > 0.1 (meters2)
Pareto set. The Pareto set is unbounded if these constraints are
not in place. The side constraints will limit the Pareto set but 0.0001 > x 2 > 0.1 (meters2)
in a less concise manner than the inequality constraints. The

5 Copyright 2001 by ASME

The MOGA parameters used for the optimization are given in bounds on the cross sectional areas ( x ). The algorithm used
Table 1.
in this work requires them. Therefore, the upper bounds were
set to very large values. Finally, the decimal precision used by
Mutation Type Random Design Variable Azarm was not reported and certainly has an effect on the
Crossover Type Sing. Pt. Uniform Par. efficiency of the optimization. With this in mind, the results
Clone Test Enabled are now presented for general comparison purposes in Table 3.
Initial Population Size 200
# of Children (per crossover) 2 Method Total Pts. Pareto Pts. Distinct Pts.
Mutation Rate 7% I-SHOT 110,038 37 21
Crossover Rate 20% MOGA 3,589 37 34
Initial Cutoff Point 1000 This MOGA 9,090 3,049 161
Cutoff Point Adder 500
Max # of Generations 1000 Table 3: Comparison of Previous work to this work
Decimal Prec. (all variables) 4
Cluster % (all objectives) 1% The I-SHOT method visited 2,974 points for every Pareto
point found, the MOGA of Azarm visited 97 points for every
Table 1: Optimization Parameters for 2-bar Truss Pareto point found, and the MOGA implementation of this
work visited 3 points for every Pareto point found.
The results of applying the multi-objective genetic algorithm
presented in this paper to the truss example are presented in The number of distinct points is strongly related to the limiting
Table 2. distance in Azarm, et. al. [10] and the Cluster percentage used
in this work. Since Azarm did not report the limiting distance,
This problem was selected because it is used by Azarm, et al the two cannot be compared. Therefore the number of distinct
[10] to compare MOGAs with repeated applications of single points should not be considered as a strong indicator of the
objective genetic algorithms. The results in Table 2 above are relative efficiencies of the Azarm methods and the method
compared to the results given by Azarm, et al [10]. presented here.

Time of execution 5 Seconds Azarm also mentions that some duplication occurred and was
# of non-dom. Pts. 3049 part of the reason that there were fewer distinct Pareto points
# of distinct non-dom. Pts. 161 than total Pareto points. Duplication was not allowed in this
Cluster Metric 18.9379 work and this should be considered as a point for comparison.
# of obj. fctn. evaluations 9090
# of Generations 110 Based on this information, the algorithm used in this work
compares favorably to the ones used by Azarm, et al [10].
Table 2: Results for Optimization of 2-bar Truss There are significantly fewer evaluations per non-dominated
point in both cases. It is important to note however that many
Before presenting the comparison, it is extremely important to of the points generated by this MOGA are non-distinct. Such a
note that implementation in this work is not the same as that of dense sampling of the Pareto set is likely unnecessary.
Azarm, et. al. [10]. First, the genetic parameters used here are
not the same nor are the genetic operators. For instance, Figure 4 contains the points generated along the Pareto frontier
Azarm uses 2-point uniform crossover and random bit for this problem using the MOGA presented in this paper.
mutation where single point uniform parameterized crossover
and random design variable mutation are used in this work.
Second, Azarm computes distinct solutions by computing the
distance between points on the Pareto frontier and comparing
the result to some limiting value. This is similar to but not the
same as the grid implementation presented by Wu & Azarm
[18] and also used in this work. No indication was given by
Azarm regarding the limiting distance for distinct points and
therefore it cannot be compared to the Cluster Percentage
used here. Third, the MOGA used by Azarm incorporates
niche pressure and this work does not in the approach
presented in this paper. Fourth, Azarm did not supply upper

6 Copyright 2001 by ASME

0.1 R 36.0 (inches)
Pareto Frontier
0 . 5 T 6 .0 (inches)
Stress in Bar AC (MPa)

100 0.1 L 140 .0 (inches)

The values for the constants in the problem are listed in Table
20 Parameter Value
0 P 3.89 ksi
0 0.05 0.1 St 35.0 ksi
Volum e of Material (m ^3) 0.283 lbs/in3

Table 4: Constants for Case Study 2

Figure 4: Pareto Set Generated
The parameters used for the optimization are given in Table 5.
3.2 Pressure Vessel
The second case study is a multi-objective pressure vessel Mutation Type Random Design Variable
problem taken from Winer [19]. The two objectives are to Crossover Type Sing. Pt. Uniform Par.
maximize the volume and to minimize the weight of a pressure Clone Test Enabled
vessel. The objective functions are both non-linear. There are Initial Population Size 200
four inequality constraints the first of which is non-linear and # of Children (per crossover) 2
the rest of which are linear. The first inequality constraint Mutation Rate 7%
limits the maximum circumferential stress in the vessel while Crossover Rate 20%
the other three are geometric constraints. There are 3 design Initial Cutoff Point 2000
variables, they are the radius of the tank (R), the thickness of Cutoff Point Adder 1000
the tank (t), and the length of the tank (L). There are side Max # of Generations 1000
constraints on all the design variables. All dimensions are in Decimal Prec. (all variables) 5
inches and all weights are in pounds. The problem statement Cluster % (all objectives) 5%
is given below.
Table 5: Optimization Parameters for
Maximize: Pressure Vessel
f vol = R 3 + R 2 L The results of the applying the multiobjective optimization
3 genetic algorithm presented in this paper to pressure vessel
example are presented in Table 6.
Time of execution 18 Seconds
4 4
f wgt = ( R + T ) 3 + ( R + T ) 2 L ( R 3 + R 2 L ) # of non-dom. Pts. 2142
3 3 # of distinct non-dom. Pts. 39
Cluster Metric 54.9231
Subject to: # of obj. fctn. evaluations 31,588
# of Generations 150
g 1 ( R, T ) St 0 Table 6: Results for Optimization of
T Pressure Vessel
g 2 ( R, T ) 5T R 0
The most noticeable value in Table 6 is the cluster metric.
Recall from Section 2 that the target value for the cluster
g 3 ( R, T ) R + T 40 0
metric is 1. This high value can be caused by one of three
things. The first possible cause is that the algorithm quickly
g 4 ( R , L, T ) L + 2 R + 2T 150 0 moved to distinct portions of the space and remained in these

7 Copyright 2001 by ASME

areas creating clusters. The second possible cause is that the
cluster percentage is high forcing the space between distinct
points to be large and thus only a small percentage of the
generated points are considered distinct. This may be desired
Volume (in3)
in which case a high cluster metric is not necessarily a bad
thing accepting that there were far more function evaluations
than necessary. The final possible cause is that the Pareto
frontier is well represented but the high decimal precision
allows for many closely spaced performance points and the
clustering occurs on the entire frontier (recall that no explicit
niche forming was used).

The algorithm was able to produce 1 non-dominated point for

every 15 points visited. Figure 5 shows all the non-dominated Weight (lbs)
designs generated. The plot shows the objective space, given
by Volume vs. Weight, where larger volumes are preferred and Figure 6: Case Study 2 Performance space
smaller weights are preferred. The data is displayed using an distinct non-dominated points only.
in-house visualization package called Cloud Visualization
The visualization package allows a user to visualize various This problem was selected because it is used by Azarm, et al
sets of points, including dominated points, non-dominated [10] to compare MOGAs with repeated applications of single
points, distinct Pareto points (see Section 2.2) as clouds of objective genetic algorithms. The results in Table 2 above are
points. compared to the results given by Azarm, et al [10].

Figure 6 is the same data as that of Figure 5 with all the non- In this paper we have presented an efficient means of
distinct points filtered out. populating a Pareto frontier using genetic programming. The
method used here was shown to provide a far better ratio of
total points to Pareto points than 2 other methods for the first
test case presented. A thorough sampling of the Pareto
frontier was also obtained for the second case study with a
good ratio of total points to Pareto points. The multiple
Volume (in3) objective genetic algorithm presented takes advantage of a
number of conceptual and computational developments to
effectively generate Pareto frontiers quite efficiently. The use
of binary encoding, dynamic memory allocation, clone testing,
Desired Region and epidemics allow the genetic algorithm to generate many
Pareto points in one optimization process, giving a designer
better information about the problem at hand.

The algorithm has also been applied in parallel computational

Weight (lbs)
environments [21] to optimize and simulate computationally
expensive vehicle dynamics design problems. Future work
Figure 5: Case Study 2 Performance Space Non- includes the addition of niche forming to this algorithm as well
dominated Points Only as real-time visualization of the evolutionary process.

We acknowledge the support of the National Science
Foundation, grant DMII9875706 in this work.

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8 Copyright 2001 by ASME

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