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NASA Langley & Optimal Solutions Team-up To Provide Powerful Adjoint-Based Design Optimization

Posted By: John Jenkins
Date:Thu, 28 Jul 2011, 1:23 a.m.

Dr. Sculptor Newsletter - July 2011

Can Adjoint-Based Optimization help you find better designs?

Using Sculptor and NASA's FUN3Dto harness adjoint sensitivities.

What is an Adjoint?
Why use Adjoints in Shape Optimization?
What is NASA Langley's FUN3D?
How can coupling Sculptor with FUN3D provide Adjoint Design Optimization?

What is an Adjoint?

In the context of design optimization, adjoint-based methods offer a very efficient alternative to traditional forward-mode sensitivity analysis using black-box finite-differencing, direct differentiation, operator overloading, or complex-variable formulations.

Given a PDE solution methodology for the forward (analysis) problem, adjoint techniques are used to integrate backwards in time to efficiently perform sensitivity analyses of output functions with respect to any number of input parameters.

The unique strength of adjoint-based methods in the context of formal mesh adaptation and error estimation is also noted, where the approach can be used to provide mathematically-rigorous mesh adaptation that has proven far superior to traditional feature-driven techniques based on heuristics.

Why use Adjoints in Shape Optimization?

Unlike forward-mode sensitivity analysis techniques whose cost scales linearly with the number of design variables, the cost associated with the adjoint solution is equivalent to that of the primal problem.

In this manner, adjoint-based schemes can provide discretely-consistent sensitivity derivatives for very large numbers of design variables at the same cost as the baseline analysis problem.

This ultimately enables formal gradient-based optimization for realistic large-scale computational aerodynamics problems which would otherwise be intractable.

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