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Dr. M.K.Gupta Kaustav Sarkar

Associate Professor M.E.(Structural Engineering) Scholar
Department of Civil Engineering Department of Civil Engineering
Bhilai Institute of Technology, Durg-491001. Bhilai Institute of Technology, Durg-491001


The aim of this paper is to investigate the potential of feedforward Artificial Neural Networks for the cost

optimum design of concrete structures.The paper presents and discusses the application of three Aritificial

Neural Network models for the cost optimum design of a singly reinforced simply supported RCC beam .

Backpropagation network is chosen for the proposed network using the Neural Network Toolbox of MATLAB.The

training and test data have been generated by the solution of the non linear constrained optimization problem

using the Solver Add In of Microsoft Excel. The results obtained from the neural nets are compared with those

obtained from conventional algorithms and are found to be in good agreement.

Keywords: Artificial Neural Network, Cost Optimization, Concrete Design.


Optimal design of framed structures is always a goal of engineers. Most building designs are optimized by trial

and error combined with the experience of the designer. The trial-and-error process is continued until an

acceptable design is attained. The efficiency of the trial and error procedure is greatly dependent on the

experience and ability of the designer to select a good initial design and perturb the design in a better

direction towards an optimal design. As a result, techniques of optimization have been developed to automate

and mathematically orchestrate the trial and error procedure. In general, optimum design problems seek to

minimize a function (usually cost) using a set of design variables subjected to constraints. These optimization

techniques are usually lengthy and complicated to implement, hence putting more burden on the designer.

One of the techniques to reduce the computational efforts required in the aforementioned regard is to train a

suitable neural network with a number of optimum designs and simulate the same later on for achieving the

results. The neural network in this case comes up with a design based on its training rather than conducting a full

design starting from the scratch.

In this paper, the cost function for a singly reinforced simply supported RCC beam is optimized with the

provisions of IS 456:2000 as the constraints.


The cost function for a RCC beam typically includes the cost of concrete, the cost of reinforcement and the cost

of formwork as illustrated in Fig.1.


d D


Fig. 1. Cross Section of a Singly Reinforced Beam

The objective function is the cost per unit length of the beam and is given by the following relationship: -

Total Cost = Cost of Concrete + Cost of Steel + Cost of Formwork

Total Cost = Cc Ac + Cs Ast + Cf (b + 2D)

Total Cost = Cc (Ag Ast ) + Cs Ast + Cf (b + 2D)

Total Cost = Cc ( Ag Ast ) x 10-6 + Cs Ast x 7850 x 10-6 + Cf (b + 2D) x 10-3 (1)

The primary constraints for the optimization problem are based on the provisions furnished in IS 456:2000

which take into account the flexural strength of the member and the lower & upper limits of steel.

(Ast /bD) - 0.04 <= 0 clause 26. 5. 1. 1 (b) of IS 456:2000.. (2)

(Ast /bd) - (0.85/fy) >= 0 clause 26. 5. 1. 1 (a) of IS 456:2000.. (3)

d-dbal >= 0 for the section to be under reinforced. (4)

Mu M >= 0 for the section to be safe in flexure.. (5)

A side constraint can also be incorporated on the basis of the limiting value of the depth of the beam.
D-Dmax<= 0 (6)

The notations used in the above expressions have the following descriptions:-

Cc = Cost of concrete per unit volume (Rs/m3)

Cs = Cost of steel per unit mass (Rs/kg)

Cf = Cost of formwork per unit peripheral area (Rs/m2 )

Ag = Gross cross sectional area of beam (mm2)

Ast = Cross sectional area of steel (mm2)

Ac = Area of concrete (mm2)

b = Width of the beam (mm)

d = Effective depth of the beam (mm)

d' = Effective cover (mm)

D = Overall depth of the beam (mm)

Dmax = Maximum permissible depth of the beam (mm)

M = Factored Bending Moment (kNm)

Mu = Moment of resistance of under-reinforced beam (kNm)

fck = Characteristic Compressive Strength of concrete (N/ mm2 )

fy = Characteristic Strength of the compression reinforcement (N/ mm2)

optimization problem is to determine d and Ast to minimize equation (1) subject to the constraints equations (2)

(6). The parameters Cc , Cs and Cf in equation (1) are considered as constants with values of 2500 (Rs/m 3 ), 35

(Rs/kg) and 140 (Rs/m2 ) respectively. The value of effective cover (d') is also taken as a constant equal to 20mm.

The problem is solved for different values of f y, fck, M, b and Dmax to build a database using which the neural

network is trained and tested in the following phase of the work.



Network topologies with one and two hidden layers were considered for the present study. The number of nodes

in each of the hidden layers was varied (between 8 to 25 in the first hidden layer and between 4 to 10 in the

second hidden layer) as shown in Fig.2 and the resulting models were tested for convergence. The impact of the

size of the training data set on the convergence to the desired goal for each of the considered models was also

studied during the course of the work.


Ast optimum
C optimum

Output Layer

Input Layer 2nd Hidden Layer

4-10 nodes

1st Hidden Layer

8-25 nodes

Fig. 2 Neural Network Topologies considered for the cost optimum design of singly reinforced beam section

The other network parameters were kept constant and are stated below:-

1. Number of training samples = 100,150,200,250 and 500 in five different sets.

2. Learning rate = 0.001

3. Training Style = Batch training

4. Type of backpropagation = Levenberg - Marquardt

5. Number of epochs = 500

6. Performance function = Mean Square Error

7. Performance goal = 0.002

8. Activation function for the hidden layer nodes = tansig

9. Activation function for the output layer nodes = purlin

The inputs to the network are:

1. Characteristic Compressive Strength of Concrete, fck

2. Characteristic Strength of the tension reinforcement, fy

3. Limiting depth of the beam, Dmax

4. Width of the beam, b

5. Factored moment acting on the beam, M

While the outputs are:

1. Optimum effective depth of the beam, d optimum

2. Optimum amount of steel, Ast optimum

3. Cost per meter run of the beam, C optimum

For the formation of the training data set, two values of fck were used i.e 20 N/ mm2 and 25 N/ mm2, two values of

fy were used i.e. 250 N/ mm2 and 415 N/ mm2 , the magnitude of design moment was varied between 5 kNm to

100 kNm, values of 200mm, 230mm, 250mm and 300mm were adopted as the width of the beam and three

values 300mm, 350mm and 400mm of permissible maximum depth of the beam were used.

In the following sections the performance of four different network models: 5-20-3, 5-10-5-3, 5-25-3 and 5-8-6-3

have been analyzed. The decrease in mse for the proposed models during training have been represented in

Figs. 3,4,5 and 6 respectively.

Fig. 3 Decrease in mse for model 5-20-3 during Fig. 4 Decrease in mse for model 5-10-5-3
training during training

Fig. 5 Decrease in mse for model 5-25-3 during Fig. 6 Decrease in mse for model 8-6-3 during
training training

The performance of all the neural network models proposed above has been tested using five different test

problems. The theoretical results obtained by solving the optimization problem and those obtained from the

neural network models have been tabulated in Table 1 as shown under :-

Network Output
S.N Inputs ActualResult
5-25-3 5-20-3 5-10-5-3 5-8-6-3
d optimum = d optimum = d optimum = d optimum = d optimum =
fck = 25
280 277.8894 280.1127 282.0403 280.5236
fy = 415 Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum =
677.0407 699.8586 666.7170 665.6755 680.8054
b = 230
C optimum = C optimum = C optimum = C optimum = C optimum =
D max =
300 473.0243 476.1252 468.8748 469.7399 471.7825

d optimum = d optimum = d optimum = d optimum = d optimum =
fck = 20
140.6888 142.1051 140.1266 141.9983 140.6096
fy = 250 Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum =
329.532 315.1070 320.3145 335.1902 313.1932
b = 230
C optimum = C optimum = C optimum = C optimum = C optimum =
D max =
300 259.304 260.2668 261.1172 259.0890 255.1663

M = 8.8

3 fck = 20

fy = 250
d optimum = d optimum = d optimum = d optimum =
b = 250 d optimum = 281.6 277.3 282.8 282.2
D max = 280 Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum =
300 Ast optimum = 1834.2 1908.5 1881.5 1841.6
C optimum = C optimum = C optimum = C optimum =
75.5 C optimum =
813 826.8 817.4 818.3
fck = 25 d optimum =
810.8841 d optimum = d optimum = d optimum = d optimum =
293.3395 300.6635 298.0142 299.8487 300.6101
fy = 415
Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum = Ast optimum =
b = 200 569.547 548.3442 561.1210 552.5007 551.0221
D max = C optimum = C optimum = C optimum = C optimum = C optimum =
400 428.1671 428.9059 426.3959 427.6137

Table 1 Comparison of theoretical and network simulated outputs

For the sake of ease of comparisons, the theoretical and the network outputs for effective depth and steel have






0 1 2 3 4
Sample Num ber
Actual d Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4

Fig. 7 Comparison of theoretical and simulated values of effective depth





0 1 2 3 4
Sam ple Num ber
Actual Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4

Fig. 8 Comparison of theoretical and simulated values of amount of steel

been presented graphically in Fig.7 and Fig.8 respectively. From Fig.7 and Fig.8 it is evident that all the four

models considered for study have produced outputs for effective depth and amount of steel, which are close to

the theoritical ones.


The paper considered the optimization problem of minimizing the total cost of a rectangular RCC beam section.

The theoretical results obtained for different material combinations, limiting depths, section widths and design

moments were used to train different neural network models. The impact of the size of the training data sets on

the convergence to the desired goal during training of the models was also studied. The network models with

one/two hidden layer(s) and with different number of nodes in the hidden layer(s) as shown in Fig.2 were not

found to converge when the training data set consisted of 100,150 ,200 and 250 samples. However convergence

was achieved with the training data set consisting of 500 samples.

Four different models were then considered and were tested with five different problems. The deviations in the

outputs generated by the artificial neural network models relative to the theoretical results were found to be

within tolerable limits as indicated by Figs. 7 and 8. Improvement in results can be further increased by

increasing the size of the training data set or by further adjusting the network topology.
An artificial neural net with a suitable topology and weight adjusting algorithm can be considered to be a reliable

means for the solution of engineering problems involving function approximation. The main advantage lies in

the flexibility offered by the network and the savings made in the computational efforts, since the problem in

hand need not be started from the scratch.



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