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Comput. Methods Appl. Mech. Engrg. 194 (2005) 46514667 www.elsevier.

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An investigation of the use of three selection-based genetic algorithm families when minimizing the production cost of hollow core slabs
Vanessa Cristina de Castilho a, Maria do Carmo Nicoletti Mounir Khalil El Debs a
a

b,*

Departamento de Engenharia de Estruturas, Escola de Engenharia de Sa o Carlos, USP, Av. Dr. Carlos Botelho, 1465 Sa o Carlos, SP, Brazil b Departamento de Computac a o, Universidade Federal de Sa o Carlos, Caixa Postal 676, Sa o Carlos, SP, Brazil Received 24 July 2004; received in revised form 22 November 2004; accepted 9 December 2004

Abstract Genetic algorithms (GAs) are search methods that have been successfully applied to a variety of tasks. This work investigates three families of GAs variations namely MGA, Roulette and Tournament which have been proposed in order to nd a solution to the problem of minimizing the production costs of hollow core slabs. In each family the elements dier from each other with respect to the reproduction scheme and the way the population is restored to its original size. Results are presented and analyzed to support a discussion about advantages and disadvantages of the proposed GAs variations in nding the solution to the problem. In addition, results obtained with a conventional optimization method are presented, for comparison. 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Cost optimization; Hollow core slabs; Genetic algorithm; Structural engineering

1. Introduction A Genetic algorithm (GA) is a search algorithm that has its basis in Darwins theory of survival of the ttest. It can be approached as an optimization algorithm that searches a space of potential solutions to a
Corresponding author. Tel.: +55 16 3351 8232; fax: +55 16 351 8233. E-mail addresses: castilho@sc.usp.br (V.C. de Castilho), carmo@dc.ufscar.br (M. do Carmo Nicoletti), mkdebs@sc.usp.br (M.K. El Debs). 0045-7825/$ - see front matter 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.cma.2004.12.008
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problem (each solution known as chromosome) seeking for those that perform best according to a chosen tness function. The search process it implements starts with a set of one or more chromosomes (initial population) and, by applying selection and reproduction operators, iteratively evolves the population into hopefully better ones, until a stopping criteria is reached. Ref. [1,2,15,16,22] provide details and denite descriptions of GAs. GAs are increasingly becoming very popular in many areas of engineering mainly because they have proven to be a plausible alternative to many computationally expensive deterministic optimization methods. In spite of still being considered an emerging tool, its success as an optimization method in many areas of engineering, particularly that of structural engineering (see for instance [69,17,19,23,24]), makes it a very promising candidate technique to be broadly applied to problems in other related engineering areas. As commented in [11], in order to derive a high-performance genetic algorithm on a domain, we are often required to specialize the genetic algorithm for the domain. It is well known, however, that making a single change in a GA can aect its performance in ways sometimes hard to predict (see, for instance, discussion on GAs performance enhancements in [11]). This article is about the use of GAs in a sub-area of structural engineering that of precast concrete structures. It proposes a few variants of the canonical GA aiming at investigating their performance when searching for the optimal solution to minimizing the production costs of hollow core slabs. The main goal was to be able to investigate the applicability of a GA approach to this particular problem as well as to identify a convenient set of genetic parameters that would improve its performance. Results obtained using a conventional optimization method are also presented, for comparison. Due to particular characteristics of the problem, this work only uses real coded GAs. The paper is organized as follows: Section 2 presents the basic notions and information related to the problem domain i.e., the production of hollow core slabs, and details the many dierent costs involved in the production of such an element. Since the problem to be solved can be characterized as a minimization problem with restrictions, Section 3 describes a way of approaching and representing this type of problem. Section 4 presents and discusses a few dierent ways GAs have been used in this work for minimizing the total cost function of producing hollow core slabs. In order to do that, it describes the general characteristics of three families of GA variations; they have been constructed using as criteria the selection strategy employed by its members. In each family the elements dier from each other with respect to the reproduction scheme and the way the population is restored to its original size. The results obtained using each of the variations are presented and analyzed to support a discussion about advantages and disadvantages of the proposed GAs variations for solving the problem. General conclusions are presented in Section 5.

2. The problem domain 2.1. Considerations about hollow core slabs Hollow core slabs are the most popular pre-fabricated elements used worldwide, especially in USA and Western Europe. The world production of this type of element is about 150 million cubic meters per year on average. It had its origins in Germany and has been evolving throughout the years as far as height and range are concerned. The most common use for this type of element is in slabs, but they can also be employed in cladding systems. In the case of slabs they can be composed with a in situ concrete topping, forming a composite section. In the case of cladding systems they can have an additional layer forming a sandwich panel. The hollow core slabs are also known as void slabs or hollow slabs. The hollow within the slabs can be of many dierent shapes such as round, oval, pseudo ellipsis, rectangular, etc. Some of these shapes are presented in Fig. 1. Usually these elements are made of prestressed concrete and are designed to be used simply supported.

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Fig. 1. A few cross-sections of hollow core slabs [12].

Hollow core slabs can be produced using x forms or, as in most cases, using an extruding machine of sliding mold in a concrete track. When a concrete track is used, the panels are produced using all the length of the concrete track and later, they are cut at a convenient length. The use of these slabs is advantageous since they do not need supporting and/or construction molds. They are compatible with metallic, pre-fabricated or masonry conventional concrete structures. Since they are hollow, they allow a sensible reduction in the weight and economy in the foundations. The elements considered in this work are designed in accordance with the Brazilian codes and FIP [13]. 2.2. Specication of the dierent costs involved in the production of hollow core slabs Since there are many dierent costs involved in the production of this type of element, the rst step of the work described in this paper, and the one that took longer to accomplish, was systematically identifying all costs involved in each of the transient stages (fabrication, transport and erection) and to represent them as mathematical equations, aiming at composing a function which would represent the total cost of producing this element. It has been decided not to present here the gures of the dierent costs because they have been determined using Brazilian currency and the average of Brazilian salaries of dierent types of jobs. Their values are pointless in a world context and do not contribute to a better understanding of the work carried out. It is worthwhile, however, to list all the dierent costs that have been considered for determining the nal total cost function. A general diagram with all costs is shown in Fig. 2. The costs related to administration and rates are a collection of dierent values and taxes related to the necessary administrative structures for running the business. The following subsections describe and explain the dierent costs involved in the problem, classied by transient stages. 2.2.1. Fabrication costs The fabrication costs have been approached as the costs related to the following aspects: A. B. C. D. Raw material; Factory activity; Administration; Rates.

2.2.1.1. Raw material. A diagram with the various costs involved in the calculation of raw material is shown in Fig. 2(b). The cost of raw material is the sum of the costs of concrete and the cost of reinforcement. The cost of concrete is the sum of three costs: material (cement, sand, aggregate, etc.), labour (involved in supervising the concrete mixer and controlling the casting equipment) and depreciation of the equipment

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TOTAL COST

FABRICATION COST

TRANSPORT COST

ERECTION COST

(a)

FABRICATION COST

RAW MATERIAL

FACTORY ACTIVITY

ADMINISTRATION & RATES

concrete

reinforcement

labour

equip.

(b)

material labour equip. material labour equip. cement, steel sand, etc.

ERECTION COST

ERECTING THE HOLLOW CORE

CONCRETE FOR REGULARIZATION

CONNECTIONS ADMINISTRATION

(c)
labour labour equip. material labour equip. equip.

Fig. 2. Costs involved in the production of hollow core slabs with concrete topping for regularization: (a) total cost; (b) fabrication cost and (c) erection cost.

(basically the concrete mixer and the extruding machine). The determination of this cost is a function of the strength concrete given in MPa. The cost of the reinforcement is also the sum of three costs: material (steel), labour (for operating the equipment, the placing of cables as well as prestressing and supervision of the cutting of the prestressed tendons) and equipment (hydraulically operated jack and machine for cutting the wires). 2.2.1.2. Factory activity. The cost of this phase is related to the cost associated with activities that take place after moulding and before delivering the product. It is the sum of labour (controlling the equipment, curing, transport and storage) and equipment (stacking machine, curing, energy, fuel, etc.). 2.2.1.3. Administration. It is the sum of costs involved in administration tasks as well as wages of the group of people involved in the job. It also includes costs related to advertising, energy, rates, rents, insurance, oce equipment, maintenance, freight, fuel, depreciation and, overhead charges. 2.2.1.4. Rates. Costs relating to Brazilian taxes charged on products produced, and which correspond to approximately 12% of the nal selling price for concrete and reinforcement.

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2.2.2. External transport costs It involves the cost of transport from the factory to where the construction takes place. In order to have a more realistic approach to the problem, a hypothetical construction taking place at 100 km from the factory was considered. This cost includes costs related to labor, trucks, fuel, insurance and maintenance. 2.2.3. Erection costs The erection costs have been approached as the costs related to the following aspects: A. B. C. D. Erecting the hollow core; Concrete for regularization; Connection; Administration.

Erecting the hollow core. The cost of erecting the hollow core is the sum of the costs of labor and costs of equipment (rental of the cranes). Concrete for regularization. It is the sum of costs related to material (concrete, sand, additive, etc.), labor (thickening the concrete, curing and stripping) and equipment (vibrator, mould). In order to establish this cost a 4 cm concrete topping with 20 MPa resistance was considered. Connection. It is the sum of the cost of material (grout) and cost of labor (for carrying out the joints). Administration. It is the sum of costs involved in administration tasks as well as wages of the group of people involved in the job. It also includes costs related to advertising, energy, taxes, rents, insurance, oce equipment, maintenance, freight, fuel, depreciation and overhead charges.

3. Representing the problem The previous costs were combined in order to produce a single function representing the total cost of production which was represented as a function of the three variables: x1 is the thickness of slab (cm), x2 the amount of steel in cross-section (cm2) and x3 is the compressive strength of concrete (MPa). Variables x1 and x2 are represented in the cross-section of the slab shown in Fig. 3. The problem considers a constant slab width of 120 cm. The hollow core slabs considered in this work have a 40 mm concrete topping moulded locally, for regularization. The shape of the slab is xed and the holes are cylindrical; this hole shape is the most common for this type of slab. The cylindrical diameter is proportional to x1. In fact, there are minimum distances from the

x1 x2
120 cm

Fig. 3. Cross-section of a slab. Variable x1 represents the thickness of the slab (cm). x2 the amount of steel in the cross-section (cm2).

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hole to the top face and to the bottom face of the slab. The cylindrical diameter is xed with a value equal to x1 minus a constant value. The slab reinforcement is always located in the position as shown in Fig. 3. The distance from the reinforcement to the bottom face is constant, with minimum values given by the reinforced concrete code. In this case, the distance is 25 mm. The function that combines all the costs and represents the total cost to be minimized is given by Eq. (1). Since the conguration of the hollow core should conform to the ultimate limit states (exural strength and shear) and serviceability limit states (excessive deection, exural cracking) [12] the problem should be approached as a minimization problem with restrictions, which can be stated as Minimize: f  x f x1 ; x2 ; x3 11.578 logx1 0.0528x1 2.4075x2 1.124.75x3 74.250.063 logx1 0.0721 0.0633 logx1 0.0721 12.663 1

where f  x) is the objective function; x1 the thickness of slab (cm), x2 the amount of steel in cross-section (cm2) and x3 is the compressive strength of concrete (MPa) such that Without live load (a) after stripping: g1  x r1P0 r1g1 rctj ; x r2P0 r2g1 rcj ; g2  (b) transport phase: g3  x r1P0 0.8r1g1 rctj ; x r2P0 0.8r2g1 rcj ; g4  x r1P0 1.3r1g1 rctj ; g5  x r2P0 1.3r2g1 rcj ; g6  (c) storage phase: g7  x r1P00 r1g1 rctj ; x r2P00 r2g1 rcj ; g8  (d) erection phase: x r1P0 r1g1 r1g2 rct ; g9  x r2P0 r2g1 r2g2 rc ; g10  With live load (a) frequent combination: x r1g1 r1g2 0.3r1q r1P00 rct ; g11  g12  x r2g1 r2g2 0.3r2q r2P00 rc ; where g11  x 6 0; where g12  x P 0; where g9  x 6 0; where g10  x P 0. where g7  x 6 0; where g8  x P 0; where g3  x 6 0; where g4  x P 0; where g5  x 6 0; where g6  x P 0; where g1  x 6 0; where g2  x P 0;

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(b) quasi-permanent combination: x r1g1 r1g2 0.2r1q r1P00 rct ; g13  x r2g1 r2g2 0.2r2q r2P00 rc g14  (c) rare combination: x r1g1 r1g2 r1q r1P00 rct ; g15  x r2g1 r2g2 r2q r2P00 rc ; g16  where g15  x 6 0; where g16  x P 0. where g13  x 6 0; where g14  x P 0;

Serviceability state checking of the deformation control (a) deection due to prestressed: x acontflec alimct ; g17  (b) deection due to loading: g18  x alim a; Ultimate state checking g19  x M d M u ; Ultimate state checking g20  x V d V u ; where r1g1 ; r2g1 stress due to panel dead weight in the top and bottom r1g2 ; r2g2 stress due to dead weight of the concrete in situ in the top and bottom r1q r1q, r2q stress due to live load in the top and bottom r1P0, r2P0 stress due to prestressed in the concrete in the top and bottom r1P00, r2P00 stress due to prestressed after the loss in the top and bottom rctj tensile strength of concrete at j days rct tensile strength of concrete rcj compressive strength of concrete at j days rc compressive strength of concrete Md bending moment Mu ultimate bending moment acontec deection due to prestressed alimct limit deection due to prestressed alim limit deection due to loading a total deection due loading Vd shear load Vu strength shear Note: stress signal convention: tensile (positive); compressive (negative) deection signal convention: down (positive); up (negative). Besides the previous restrictions, due to problem characteristics (tolerable limits), the range of values of the three variables were limited to the following intervals: where g20  x 6 0; where g19  x 6 0. where g18  x P 0. where g17  x P 0;

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10.0 6 x1 6 45.0 cm; 2.20 6 x2 6 12.00 cm2 ; 30 6 x3 6 50 MPa. Having mapped the problem of minimum production cost of concrete topping hollow core slabs into a minimization problem with restrictions, the next step of the work was to solve the minimization problem using two dierent approaches: GAs and a conventional optimisation method, for comparison. As stated initially, the main goal of the work was to investigate the practicality of using GAs in this particular optimisation problem as a more exible and robust alternative to a conventional optimisation method. Since there are many choices to be made when using GAs, the way we approached the problem was to consider many variations of the canonical GA, each reecting a particular choice.

4. Minimizing the total cost function: A GA approach When applying GAs to problems with restrictions, a commonly used technique is to add a penalty term to the objective function. Essentially this technique transforms the constrained problem into an unconstrained problem by penalizing unfeasible solutions, in which a penalty term is added to the objective function for any violation of the constraints [14]. Generally a penalty function pen x is added to the objective function f  x so to construct the tness function F  x, as shown in Eq. (2). Usually the penalty function has a zero value pen x 0 when  x is feasible and a positive value, otherwise. F  x f  x pen x. 2

There is not a general guidance for dening the penalty function for optimization problems. This work adopts one dened by the linear equation (see [24] for details) pen x 1500C ; Pm where C i1 ci and m the number of restrictions and ci is the value associated with the gi  x restriction, determined as: for those restrictions s.t. gi  x should be less or equal to 0 do if gi  x 6 0 then ci = 0 else ci = 1 for those restrictions s.t. gi  x should be greater or equal to 0 do if gi  x P 0 then ci = 0 else ci = 1

So, the tness function used in the experiments was the sum of function f(x), given by Eq. (1), plus function pen(x) as stated above, which takes into consideration the restrictions imposed by the problem, described in Section 3. 4.1. The GAs variations families We chose to investigate many dierent variations of the canonical GA (given in Fig. 4), to try to nd the combination of genetic characteristics and genetic parameters most suitable to this particular problem. The many dierent GA variations proposed are a consequence of the many dierent combinations of the selection operator, reproduction scheme and restoration of the population to its original size.

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Fig. 4. Canonical genetic algorithm. Table 1 Common parameters of the 22 GA variations Parameters Elitism Size of the population Representation Crossover Probability of crossover Probability of mutation Stop criterion Values 1 individual 100 Real Arithmetical operator with k = 2/3 0.85 0.01 1000 generations

The basic selection operators of a GA have been turned into selection strategies; they implement a selective process as well as a restoration process (when necessary). In order to reect the considered selection strategies, the canonical GA described in Fig. 4 has been modied giving rise to 22 GAs variations. Three basic selection operators have been chosen: modied rank, roulette and tournament. Aiming to systematize and to facilitate easy reference to them, the GA variants were grouped into three families, using as criteria the selection strategy they employ. These families are referred to as MGA (Modied GA), Roulette and Tournament. Table 1 lists the values of the main GA parameters used in the implementations. Due to the characteristics of the problem where the possible solutions tend to occur close to each other in the search space, the most suitable representation for potential solutions to the problem is the real representation, as suggested in [14]. The GAs variations implementations deal with chromosomes which are encoded as vectors of three real numbers corresponding to the three variables involved in the function represented by Eq. (1). The crossover operator implemented is the arithmetical operator, which is dened as a linear combination of two vectors, as shown in Fig. 5. Based on the results of previous experiments, the value of k was xed at 2/3. The adopted mutation is the random mutation where the value of a variable is substituted by another one, randomly chosen within the range of the variable. The experiments were done considering three schemes of reproduction named substitution, evaluation and steady-state. Their main characteristics are: Substitution. At each generation parents are substituted by their sons. Evaluation. The tness values of parents and sons are compared and those with best tness values are chosen; Steady-state. Implements what is called steady-state replacement, where in each generation only a few (typically two) individuals are replaced. In this scheme the crossover rate is ignored. As commented

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Fig. 5. Arithmetical operator.

in [1], in the steady-state case, we not only have to consider how to select two individuals to be parents, but we also have to select two unlucky individuals from the population to be killed o, to make way for the ospring. Several schemes are possible, including: 1. selection of parents according to tness and selection of replacements at random; 2. selection of parents at random and selection of replacements by inverse tness and 3. selection of both parents and replacements according to tness/inverse tness. In this work the steady-state strategy was implemented in two dierent ways: Steady-state 1. The two best individuals of the current population are selected for crossover. Their two children are evaluated and compared with the two worse individuals of the current population, substituting them or not, depending on the results of the tness values. Steady-state 2. Two random individuals of the current population are selected for crossover. The two children are evaluated and compared with the two worst individuals of the population, substituting them or not, depending on the results of their tness values (as scheme 2. above). As stated in Table 1, the crossover rate for the experiments is 0.85 i.e., only 85% of the population of Npop individuals undergo reproduction. If the reproduction scheme is substitution, the ospring of those that reproduced compose 85% of the new generation. We investigate two dierent ways of completing (up to Npop) the 15% left (by randomly choosing individuals of the current population or by choosing the individuals that were not involved in the crossover process). Since genetic algorithms are stochastic, their performance usually varies from run to run, and so a curve showing average performance is a more useful way to view the behaviour of a genetic algorithm than a representation of the behaviour of a genetic algorithm in a single run. [11]. The data describing the results of each experiment is for the average values obtained using 10 randomly selected initial populations (average of 10 runs). The results using the conventional optimization Augmented Lagrangian Method implemented as the system EASY [20,21] (available for download from http://www.ime.unicamp/~martinez) are also presented, for comparison. 4.2. The MGA family The MGA selection [5] initially classies in descending order the individuals of the current population by their tness value. Next, if the crossover rate is x%, the x% rst individuals are selected for crossover. The MGA family was proposed with the intention of experiencing with a selection process heavily dependent on the tness value. The MGA family is composed of six variants which dier among themselves with relation to the reproduction scheme (substitution, evaluation, steady-state 1 or 2, as dened in the previous section) and the way the population is restored to Npop (population size) individuals, after crossover. Table 2 identies the six elements of this family and describes their main characteristics.

V.C. de Castilho et al. / Comput. Methods Appl. Mech. Engrg. 194 (2005) 46514667 Table 2 The MGA family GA variant MGA1 MGA2 MGA3 MGA4 MGA5 MGA6 Scheme Substitution Substitution Evaluation Evaluation Steady-state 1 Steady-state 2 How population is restored to Npop elements Random individuals of the current population Individuals that were not involved in the crossover Random individuals of the current population Individuals that were not involved in the crossover

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The GAs variations of this family have in common the fact that the selection process selects those individuals who necessarily will undergo crossover. Taking into consideration the fact that only a percentage of individuals undergo crossover, a restoring mechanism which restores the population to its original size is necessary. An investigation of the MGA family in a similar problem is described in [4]. As it can be seen in Table 2, variants MGA1 and MGA2 dier in how they implement the restoring mechanism. In both procedures all the generated ospring are part of the new population. In variants MGA3 and MGA4 the set of generated ospring compete with all the individuals of the current population in order to be able to be selected for the next population. The set of generated ospring is extended to Npop elements by adding individuals from the current population. The new population is extracted from the union of the current population with this extended set, using as criteria the tness value of the individuals. Variants MGA5 and MGA6 implement the steady-state replacement. Both procedures only dier in how the parents are selected, as described in the previous section. Table 3 presents the values of the total cost function, the standard deviation, the absolute best and absolute worst as well as the values of the three variables which dene the total cost function for all GA variants of the MGA family. The table also presents the results obtained using the canonical GA (as described in Fig. 1) using the rank selection operator, as described in literature (see [3]). Rank1 and Rank2 dier only in the way the population is restored to its original size. Rank1 uses individuals that were not part of the crossover and Rank2 uses elements of the current population randomly chosen. This data is provided for comparison as well as the results given by the conventional optimization Augmented Lagrangean Method, implemented as the system EASY. The results given by EASY are repeated in the next tables, for comparison purposes. It can be seen in Table 3 and corresponding Fig. 6 that the results obtained by almost all the variants are relatively close and that the best result was given by MGA1. The results obtained by MGA2 are the worst.

Table 3 Total cost function value and corresponding variable values for MGA family, where R$ represents the Brazilian currency GA variant Value of the function (R$/m2) Function value MGA1 MGA2 MGA3 MGA4 MGA5 MGA6 Rank1 Rank2 EASY 75.91 78.36 76.04 76.42 76.26 76.80 76.06 76.10 75.75 Standard deviation 0.1613 0.7857 0.3601 0.5942 0.4919 0.5004 0.2091 0.0853 Absolute best 75.80 76.96 75.75 75.76 75.85 75.89 75.86 76.00 Absolute worst 76.34 79.11 76.85 77.53 77.40 77.61 76.45 76.27 Variables x1 (cm) 21.47 21.27 21.56 21.49 21.45 21.76 21.77 21.53 21.49 x2 (cm2) 2.67 2.84 2.62 2.54 2.59 2.82 2.66 2.70 2.69 x3 (MPa) 30.7 37.6 31.2 32.1 32.4 31.3 30.3 30.8 30.0

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Cost Function Generation
83

cost function (R$/m2)

82 81 80 79 78 77 76 75 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000

MGA1 MGA2 MGA3 MGA4 MGA5 MGA6 Rank1 Rank2

generation

Fig. 6. Average values of the total cost function given by the MGA family, Rank1 and Rank2.

One possible reason for that is due to the fact that the MGA2 restores the population to Npop individuals using individuals that have not been selected for crossover (individuals that, probably, do not have a good tness value). Another reason, which does not exclude the rst has to do with the reproduction scheme used i.e., substitution, which does not take into consideration the tness values, when replacing parents by children. The same scheme, however, is employed by the MGA1, which reached the best result among all the MGA variants. This may indicate that it is the restoration mechanism that negatively inuences the performance of MGA2. As can be seen in Table 3, the results obtained by EASY are the best among them all. Note, however, that the absolute best obtained with MGA3 and MGA4 coincide with the value obtained using EASY. Analyzing the results obtained by MGA2 and MGA4 and by MGA1 and MGA3, it can be inferred that the evaluation strategy does not contribute to an improvement in the performance. With relation to MGA1 and MGA2 (that share the substitution scheme) as well as by MGA3 and MGA4 (that share the evaluation scheme) we can conclude that the restoration mechanism that takes into consideration individuals who have not been selected for crossover, is not a good choice. Still, it was decided to use this restoration strategy in the following experiments in order to conrm this result. 4.3. The Roulette family The dierent combinations of the reproduction schemes and the dierent ways the population can be restored to Npop individuals gave rise to four basic variants of the Roulette family. The decision to experiment with GAs which implement an intermediate population made each basic variant of this family have a version which uses an intermediate population. These versions have the sux A attached to the name of the main variant and have been grouped in the RouletteA subfamily. For comparison purposes, besides the Roulette family and the RouletteA subfamily, the canonical AG was implemented exactly as proposed in [22], having the roulette as the selection operator. This implementation is referred to, for reference purposes, as Michalewicz. Table 4 presents the main characteristics of the Roulette family, RouletteA subfamily and the Michalewicz implementation. Table 5 presents the values of the total cost function, the standard deviation, the absolute best and absolute worst as well as the values of the three variables which dene the total cost function for all GA variants of the Roulette family and the RouletteA subfamily. The table also presents the results obtained using the Michalewicz implementation and, again, the results given by the system EASY. Data in Table 5 shows that Roulette3 and Roulette2 obtained the best and the worst results of the Roulette family, respectively. The only dierence between these two variants is in the reproduction scheme,

V.C. de Castilho et al. / Comput. Methods Appl. Mech. Engrg. 194 (2005) 46514667 Table 4 The Roulette family GA variant Roulette1 Roulette1A Roulette2 Roulette2A Roulette3 Roulette3A Roulette4 Roulette4A Scheme Substitution Substitution Substitution Substitution Evaluation Evaluation Evaluation Evaluation How population is restored to Npop individuals

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Random individuals of the current population Random individuals of the current population. Use of intermediate population Individuals who were not involved in the crossover Individuals who were not involved in the crossover. Use of intermediate population Random individuals of the current population Random individuals of the current population. Use of intermediate population Individuals who were not involved in the crossover Individuals who were not involved in the crossover. Use of intermediate population

Table 5 Total cost function value and corresponding variable values for Roulette family and RouletteA subfamily where R$ represents the Brazilian currency GA variant Value of the function (R$/m2) Function value Roulette1 Roulette1A Roulette2 Roulette2A Roulette3 Roulette3A Roulette 4 Roulette4A Michalewicz EASY 78.62 79.22 78.86 77.87 76.27 76.38 76.28 76.17 78.00 75.75 Standard deviation 1.449 1.7011 1.3562 0.9445 0.4576 0.5893 0.6006 0.4428 1.8182 Absolute best 76.89 77.61 76.83 76.56 75.80 75.76 75.75 75.75 76.99 Absolute worst 81.09 81.92 80.73 79.71 77.23 77.74 77.66 75.85 79.03 Variables x1 (cm) 22.19 23.21 22.90 22.07 21.66 21.79 22.02 21.66 21.99 21.49 x2 (cm2) 2.83 2.64 2.74 2.74 2.54 2.63 2.59 2.60 2.74 2.69 x3 (MPa) 35.6 35.4 34.6 34.3 32.2 31.4 30.6 31.4 34.8 30.0

Cost Function Generation


83

Roulette1 Roulette1A Roulette2 Roulette2A Roulette3 Roulette3A Roulette4 Roulette4A Michalewicz


0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000

cost function (R$/m2)

82 81 80 79 78 77 76 75

generation

Fig. 7. Average values of the total cost function given by the Routlette family and Michalewicz.

where Roulette3 used evaluation and Roulette2 used substitution. It can be visualized in Fig. 7 that the many curves representing the cost function being minimized by variants using the substitution scheme did not perform well, when compared to the other members of the family.

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Focusing on the Roulette family, the variants that only dier with respect to the restoration process i.e., Roulette1Roulette2 and Roulette3Roulette4 have achieved similar results which suggests that their performance is more dependent on the reproduction scheme they employ. In two instances, when comparing each Roulette variant with its version using the intermediate population, it can be noted that the version using the intermediate population has a better result. On one hand, the use of an intermediate population sensibly improves the results obtained by Roulette2 and slightly improves the results obtained by Roulette4. On the other, the use of an intermediate population degrades the performance of Roulette1 and Roulette3. When focusing on the performance of the variants in the RouletteA family, the best result was given by Roulette4A and the worst, by the Roulette1A. The use of an intermediate population has not helped to improve the best result but it has helped to improve the worst result. The Michalewicz variant had a worse performance than any of the variants using the evaluation scheme (with or without an intermediate population and independently of the restoration strategy used). 4.4. The tournament family As in the Roulette family, the dierent combinations of the reproduction schemes and the dierent ways the population can be restored to Npop individuals gave rise to four basic variants of the Tournament family. Also, the use of an intermediate population made each basic variant have a version which uses an intermediate population. These versions have the sux A attached to the name of the main variant and have been grouped in the TournamentA subfamily. Table 6 presents the main characteristics of the Tournament

Table 6 The tournament family GA variant Tournament1 Tournament1A Tournament2 Tournament2A Tournament3 Tournament3A Tournament4 Tournament4A Scheme Substitution Substitution Substitution Substitution Evaluation Evaluation Evaluation Evaluation How population is restored to Npop individuals Random individuals of the current population Random individuals of the current population. Use of intermediate population Individuals who were not involved in the crossover Individuals who were not involved in the crossover. Use of intermediate population Random individuals of the current population Random individuals of the current population. Use of intermediate population Individuals who were not involved in the crossover Individuals who were not involved in the crossover. Use of intermediate population

Table 7 Total cost function value and corresponding variable values of the Tournament family and TournamentA subfamily where R$ represents the Brazilian currency GA variant Value of the function (R$/m2) Function value Tournament1 Tournament1A Tournament2 Tournament2A Tournament3 Tournament3A Tournament4 Tournament4A EASY 75.94 75.99 75.85 75.98 76.17 76.05 76.56 76.63 75.75 Standard deviation 0.2552 0.1709 0.1026 0.1589 0.2714 0.2312 0.6829 1.0326 Absolute best 75.76 75.80 75.77 75.81 75.81 75.76 75.77 75.75 Absolute worst 76.48 76.33 76.12 76.34 76.53 76.36 77.71 78.28 Variables x1 (cm) 21.60 21.71 21.54 21.71 21.33 21.63 21.69 21.58 21.49 x2 (cm2) 2.64 2.66 2.68 2.65 2.62 2.64 2.61 2.63 2.69 x3 (MPa) 30.6 30.6 30.2 30.2 32.3 30.9 32.4 33.0 30.0

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Cost Function Generation
82

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cost function (R$/m2)

81 80 79 78 77 76 75 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000

Tournament1 Tournament1A Tournament2 Tournament2A Tournament3 Tournament3A Tournament4 Tournament4A

generation

Fig. 8. Average values of the total cost function of the Tournament family.

family and TournamentA subfamily. In Table 7 (and corresponding Fig. 8) are presented the values of the total cost function, the standard deviation, the absolute best and absolute worst as well as the values of the three variables which dene the total cost function for all GA variants of the Tournament family and the TournamentA subfamily. As can be seen in Table 7, the results obtained by all the variants of the Tournament family are very close to each other preventing the identication of the best variant. The way Tournament family was implemented, the reproduction schemes, methods of population restoration to Npop individuals, and the use of an intermediate population have had very little inuence on the nal results. Although a few of the variants had results close to those of EASY, none were better than EASY.

5. Conclusions The programs which implement the many GA variants were written in C++ and executed under Windows NT. The EASY system which implements the Augmented Lagrangian was downloaded from http://www.ime.unicamp/~martinez. As mentioned before, the MGA family has been previously analysed for minimizing the production cost of hollow core slabs problem using a cost function dened in [18], without the cost associated with failure, which is inherent in the method the authors used. At a certain time during the experiments, we decided to try dierent population sizes. As the results obtained did not provoke a substantial change, which would deserve a more detailed analysis, they are not presented. Aiming at a broader investigation of the most suitable GAs characteristics for the problem, two other types of crossover have been tried, simple and uniform. Their use has not inuenced the results to the point of deserving to be discussed. In addition, some of the experiments tried dierent values for the parameter k, used by the arithmetic operator; their impact on the results were minimum and for this reason do not warrant further analysis. Analysing the results presented in the previous section, it becomes obvious that among all the proposed GAs, those grouped in the families MGA and Tournament had a better performance. In spite of the fact that EASY outperformed the GAs (considering the average values of the runs), some of the GA variations found, as their absolute best value, the same value found by EASY. It is worth mentioning that when using EASY for this particular problem, many initial values have been tried (the implementation used expects the user to provide an initial value). For initial values reasonably distant from the optimal, the EASY system does not converge and informs the user. When using as initial value any of those obtained by the variants, the EASY system converges to the value shown in previous

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tables. The performance of EASY is strongly dependent on the initial value given by the user. When there is little information about the space of solutions, this optimization method becomes very limited. When that happens, an interesting approach is that of combining the conventional method with an heuristic method, such as GA. The GA would provide the initial point to the conventional method. For those interested, reference [18] investigates the problem of minimizing the production cost of hollow core slabs using a conventional method. The results have shown that GAs, with certain characteristics, can be an alternative for solving the minimization problem described in this work. If a good starting point is known in advance, EASY can be considered the best option. If there is no such information, however, MGA1 and Tournament2 are good options to be considered. We are aware that given enough information about the search space it will always be possible to construct a search method that will outperform a GA. However, obtaining such information is for many problems, almost as dicult as solving the problem itself [10].

Acknowledgement To CAPES and CNPq for the scholarship granted to Vanessa Cristina de Castilho and to Maria do Carmo Nicoletti respectively, and to Leonie Catherine Pearson for her valuable comments on this work and for proofreading this paper.

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