Date of Award

Spring 1994

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Director

Oktay Baysal

Committee Member

A. C. Taylor

Committee Member

S. N. Tiwari

Committee Member

P. A. Newman

Committee Member

J. Sobieski


An aerodynamic shape optimization procedure based on discrete sensitivity analysis is extended to treat three-dimensional geometries. The function of sensitivity analysis is to directly couple computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with numerical optimization techniques, which facilitates the construction of efficient direct-design methods. The development of a practical three-dimensional design procedures entails many challenges, such as: (1) the demand for significant efficiency improvements over current design methods; (2) a general and flexible three-dimensional surface representation; and (3) the efficient solution of very large systems of linear algebraic equations. It is demonstrated that each of these challenges is overcome by: (1) employing fully implicit (Newton) methods for the CFD analyses; (2) adopting a Bezier-Bernstein polynomial parameterization of two- and three-dimensional surfaces; and (3) using preconditioned conjugate gradient-like linear system solvers. Whereas each of these extensions independently yields an improvement in computational efficiency, the combined effect of implementing all the extensions simultaneously results in a significant factor of 50 decrease in computational time and a factor of eight reduction in memory over the most efficient design strategies in current use. The new aerodynamic shape optimization procedure is demonstrated in the design of both two- and three-dimensional inviscid aerodynamic problems including a two-dimensional supersonic internal/external nozzle, two-dimensional transonic airfoils (resulting in supercritical shapes), three-dimensional transonic transport wings, and three-dimensional supersonic delta wings. Each design application results in realistic and useful optimized shapes.


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