Zhang wins Journal of Applied Mechanics Award for streamlined structural design algorithm

12/3/2021 10:25:54 AM

X. Shelly ZhangAssistant professor X. Shelly Zhang has won the 2022 Journal of Applied Mechanics Award for her paper, “Topology Optimization with Many Right Hand Sides Using a Mirror Descent Stochastic Approximation – Reduction from Many to a Single Sample.”

Practical engineering designs typically involve many load cases, for example a structure’s self-weight, wind load and snow load. However, it is very time-consuming to generate an optimal design that considers that many load cases. To address this challenge, Zhang and co-authors propose a mirror descent stochastic approximation algorithm (MD-SA), which is the algorithm adopted in many modern machine learning methods, for structural optimization.

“The proposed MD-SA algorithm can automatically generate optimal engineering structures that withstand hundreds of load cases, but at a fraction of cost,” Zhang said. “Instead of hundreds of load cases, the new MD-SA algorithm requires only a single sample for each optimization iteration. As a result, we speed up the compute time by up to 22 times, while maintaining similar design quality.”

The award is conferred by the Applied Mechanics Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers to honor the best paper which has been published in the Journal of Applied Mechanics during the two calendar years immediately preceding the year of the award. Winners must have received their Ph.D. degrees no more than 10 years prior to July 1 of the year of award.