Enhanced data efficiency using deep neural networks and Gaussian processes for aerodynamic design optimization

S. Ashwin Renganathan, Romit Maulik, Jai Ahuja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adjoint-based optimization methods are attractive for aerodynamic shape design primarily due to their computational costs being independent of the dimensionality of the input space and their ability to generate high-fidelity gradients that can then be used in a gradient-based optimizer. This makes them very well suited for high-fidelity simulation based aerodynamic shape optimization of highly parametrized geometries such as aircraft wings. However, the development of adjoint-based solvers involve careful mathematical treatment and their implementation require detailed software development. Furthermore, they can become prohibitively expensive when multiple optimization problems are being solved, each requiring multiple restarts to circumvent local optima. In this work, we propose a machine learning enabled, surrogate-based framework that replaces the expensive adjoint solver, without compromising on predicting predictive accuracy. Specifically, we first train a deep neural network (DNN) from training data generated from evaluating the high-fidelity simulation model on a model-agnostic design of experiments on the geometry shape parameters. The optimum shape may then be computed by using a gradient-based optimizer coupled with the trained DNN. Subsequently, we also perform a gradient-free Bayesian optimization, where the trained DNN is used as the prior mean. We observe that the latter framework (DNN-BO) improves upon the DNN-only based optimization strategy for the same computational cost. Overall, this framework predicts the true optimum with very high accuracy, while requiring far fewer high-fidelity function calls compared to the adjoint-based method. Furthermore, we show that multiple optimization problems can be solved with the same machine learning model with high accuracy, to amortize the offline costs associated with constructing our models. Our methodology finds applications in the early stages of aerospace design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106522
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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