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Optimization

Po Ting Lin

e-mail: potinglin223@gmail.com

e-mail: gea@rci.rutgers.edu

Yogesh Jaluria

e-mail: jaluria@jove.rutgers.edu

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey,

Piscataway, NJ 08854

been intensively studied for many decades. Since Hasofer and

Lind [1974, Exact and Invariant Second-Moment Code Format,

J. Engrg. Mech. Div., 100(EM1), pp. 111121] defined a measure

of the second-moment reliability index, many RBDO methods utilizing the concept of reliability index have been introduced as the

reliability index approach (RIA). In the RIA, reliability analysis

problems are formulated to find the reliability indices for each

performance constraint and the solutions are used to evaluate the

failure probability. However, the traditional RIA suffers from inefficiency and convergence problems. In this paper, we revisited the

definition of the reliability index and revealed the convergence

problem in the traditional RIA. Furthermore, a new definition of

the reliability index is proposed to correct this problem and a

modified reliability index approach is developed based on this definition. The strategies to solve RBDO problems with non-normally

distributed design variables by the modified RIA are also investigated. Numerical examples using both the traditional and modified RIAs are compared and discussed. [DOI: 10.1115/1.4003842]

variable, Xj , has an expected value of dj and a standard deviation

of rj . A probabilistic design optimization is then formulated as

follows

Min zd

Introduction

utilized to seek for better engineering designs in terms of reducing

the system cost and enhancing the performance or the quality.

Traditionally, engineering design problems are formulated as a

deterministic optimization problem while neglecting the uncertainties of design variables. Under the deterministic optimization

formulation, the optimal designs are selected based on the feasibility and optimality. However, the existence of uncertainties on

the design variables will lead to the violations of constraints and

destroy the optimality. To this end, reliability-based design optimization (RBDO) has been developed to provide a much better

design of which the probability of system failures is reduced to an

acceptable level.

RBDO problems have been intensively studied for many decades. Since Hasofer and Lind [1] defined a measure of the secondmoment reliability index as the shortest distance from the origin

to the failure region in the standardly normalized variable space to

quantify the failure probability, many RBDO methods utilizing

the concept of reliability index have been introduced as the reliability index approach (RIA) [29]. In the RIA, a reliability analysis problem is formulated to find the reliability index for each performance constraint, and the solutions are used to evaluate the

Manuscript received November 17, 2010; final manuscript received March 14,

2011; published online May 2, 2011. Assoc. Editor: Wei Chen.

failure probability. Tu et al. [10] pointed out a convergence problem associated with the numerical singularities in the traditional

RIA and developed a new approach called the performance measure approach (PMA) where an inverse reliability analysis problem is formulated to evaluate the probability performance instead

of using the reliability index. Since the numerical singularity only

exists in some numerical extreme cases such as the standard deviation is very close to zero, it is not a major issue in engineering

practices. Other than the numerical singularity associated with the

tight standard deviations, the traditional RIA still often mysteriously fails to converge under the general setting. This convergence problem of the traditional RIA prompts many researchers to

select the PMA as a more efficient and robust choice for general

nonlinear performance functions [11,12].

In this paper, we revisited the definition of the reliability index

and discovered the convergence problem in the traditional RIA.

We have found that the definition of the reliability index leads to

incorrect evaluations of the failure probabilities and causes the

convergence problem. Furthermore, we proposed a new definition of the reliability index to correct this problem, and a modified reliability index approach was developed. In the remainder

of this paper, we will first review the traditional RIA and illustrate the problem of the original definition of the reliability

index. Then, we will present a new definition of the reliability

index and the modified RIA. Not only can the modified RIA be

used to solve RBDO problems with normally distributed random

variables in most engineering practices but also the strategies to

solve the ones with non-normally distributed random variables

by the modified RIA are investigated. Finally, the solutions of

linear and nonlinear examples generated from the modified RIA

are presented and compared with the traditional RIA to demonstrate the efficiency and robustness of the proposed new method.

Other numerical examples demonstrate how the RBDO problems

with lognormally distributed random variables are solved by the

modified RIA.

s:t:

Pgi X > 0 Pf ;i

i 1; :::; n

(1)

where z is the cost function, gi is the ith constraint, gi > 0 represents the failure region, and Pf ;i is the ith allowable probability of

the system failure. Mathematically, Pgi X > 0 can be calculated

by an integral of its joint probability density function (JPDF), fi x,

with in the infeasible domain. However, this process is very computationally expensive.

2.1 Reliability Analysis in the TRIA. To quantify the probability of the system failure, a reliability index was introduced by

Hasofer and Lind [1] in terms of the shortest distance from the origin to the failure region in the standard normal space. A simple

RBDO example shown in Fig. 1 is used to illustrate this concept

and the following relation holds

f xdx

(2)

Pg X > 0

g>0

mapping factor of x d ru and assuming the random variables

are normally distributed and uncorrelated [1], the corresponding

standard normal PDF is illustrated in Fig. 2, where u is the most

probable point (MPP) and has the shortest distance from the

C 2011 by ASME

Copyright V

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constraint to the origin. Hasofer and Lind [1] defined this distance

as the reliability index, bHL , which is given as

1=2

bHL up up

(3)

where the Einstein notation is used and p is the dummy index.

The determination of the MPP often comes from a subproblem

1=2

Min up up

s:t: gu 0

(4)

nately, the numerical singularity originated from very small standard deviations in an RBDO problem is not a critical issue in most

practical engineering problems because variables with very small

standard deviations can be treated as deterministic variables and

the singularity can be removed. However, numerical results

showed that the TRIA sometimes still fails to converge even with

not so small standard deviations [12].

The real problem that leads to the convergence problems of the

TRIA resides on the definition of the reliability index. The original reliability index is defined as the shortest distance from the origin to the failure region. If the origin is within the failure region,

the current definition becomes invalid. However, the MPP suboptimization problem of the TRIA will still return a MPP solution.

As shown in Figs. 2 and 3, both u are considered as the MPP solutions even though u is negative in Fig. 2 but positive in Fig. 3.

Therefore, the optimization iteration of the TRIA may arrive at erratic solutions and cause convergence problems. One possible solution to avoid the convergence problem is to evaluate the failure

probability of the design in each iteration. If the failure probability

is larger than 50%, the current design is considered as a failed

design and the reliability index can be assigned as a negative

value. However, the evaluation of the failure probability is computationally costly. To this end, a more efficient and robust solution is presented in Sec. 3.

3

where the optimal solution, u , has the shortest distance from the

equality constraint to the origin. From Eq. (2), the failure probability can then be rewritten as

Pg X > 0 UbHL

(5)

(CDF). Similarly, the failure probability, Pf , can be evaluated by

the standard normal CDF as follows

Pf U bf

(6)

standard normal CDF operator, U1 , the probabilistic formulation

(1) now becomes the solvable deterministic formulation as follows

Min zd s:t: bHL d bf

d

(7)

2.2 Convergence Problem of the TRIA. As discussed in Tu

et al. [10], the TRIA has a convergence problem during the MPPsearching in Eq. (4) because it may not have any solution as the

standard deviation is very small and bHL becomes infinity. Fortu-

Fig. 2

mean

in Sec. 2, the root of the convergence problems in the TRIA

comes from the definition of the reliability index. The current

definition of the reliability index fails to find the true MPP if the

origin is within the failure region. To overcome this problem, a

new reliability index is proposed in this section.

A new reliability index, bM , is defined as follows

bM u ru gu kru gu k1

(8)

MPP to differentiate whether the current design is safe or failed,

i.e., the origin is within the failure region or not. To this end, we

will examine the MPP subproblem in Eq. (4) to understand the

relationship between u and ru gu .

Using the method of Lagrangian multiplier to solve the MPP

subproblem in Eq. (4), an auxiliary function is introduced as

follows

1=2

kgu

(9)

Lu; k up up

where k is the Lagrangian multiplier. The optimal solution is

given by solving rLu; k 0, which gives

h

i

1=2

kgu 0

(10)

eq ruq up up

Fig. 3

mean

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Equation (10) can be rewritten as

h

i

(11)

eq dpq up ur ur 1=2 kruq gu 0

with linear constraints as follows

Min

d

s:t:

where dpq is the Kronecker delta. From Eq. (11), the MPP is given

by

1

u kku k ru gu

(12)

The relation indicates that ru gu has whether the same direction or the opposite one with the direction of u . Therefore, we

can take advantages of this collinear relationship between u and

ru gu to modify the original definition of the reliability index

as the new definition of bM in Eq. (8). The new definition, bM , is

identical to the original bHL in Eq. (3) when the origin is outside

the failure region and bM becomes a negative quantity when the

current design leads to system failure, i.e., the origin is within the

failure region. In this way, the new reliability index can provide

the correct solution.

3.2 A Simple Illustrative Example. To illustrate the definition of the new reliability index, a simple linear probabilistic constraint is used here. Consider the failure probability of a linear

constraint is given by

Pg X X 10 > 0 0:13%

(13)

Two different values of the design variable are selected for comparison, d 13 and 7. The MPPs are found to be u 3 for the

first case and u 3 for the second one. However, the traditional

reliability index, bHL , gives the same values as 3. Then, the probability of failure in Eq. (5) results in the same answer as

U3 0:13% that implies satisfactory for both cases that is

obviously a wrong answer for the second case. Using the new definition of reliability index, bM , u ru gu becomes 3 and -3 for

the first and second cases, respectively. Therefore, the probabilities of failures are evaluated correctly as U3 0:13% for the

first case and U3 99:87% for the second case.

Using the new definition in Eq. (8), Eq. (5) is rewritten as

Pg X > 0 UbM

(14)

(15)

bf U1 Pf

In this way, the original probabilistic formulation becomes the

deterministic formulation

Min zd s:t: bM d bf

d

(16)

of u , which alters with d.

Constraint in MRIA. After the original probabilistic optimization formulation in the Eq. (1) is transformed into the deterministic formulation in Eq. (16) using the new reliability index, we can

apply the MRIA to solve RBDO problems.

In the MRIA, we first express bM d in terms of d using the

first-order Taylors expansion at the current design, d k . At the

kth iteration, bM d can be written as the following

bM d bM d k d d k rd bM d k

(17)

Journal of Mechanical Design

zd

bM d k d d k rd bM d k bf

(18)

and applying the obtained u d k to Eq. (8). By taking the first

derivative of bd d k with respect to d, rd bM d k is obtained as

rd bM d k rd u ru gu kru gu k1

(19)

Given the fact from the transformation between the normally distributed and the standard-normally distributed design space, we

have

rd gu ; d rd u ru g um ; d k rd g um ; d k

(20)

The feasibility of the MPP problem requires rd gu ; d 0;

therefore, at the optimal solution of the MPP problem, we have

rd u ru gu rd gu

Equation (19) then becomes

rd bM d k rd gu kru gu k1

(21)

(22)

using the Eqs. (8) and (22), is obtained as follows

Min

zd

s:t:

r gu

u ru gu

d

d d k

bf

kru gu k

kru gu k

(23)

The main difference between the MRIA and the TRIA is in the

first constant term of the constraint equation. In the MRIA, the

constant term is obtained from the new definition of reliability

index, bM , while the TRIA uses the bHL . In the beginning of the

optimization, the initial designs, d 0 and u0 , are given. For the

kth iteration, the MPP subproblems are solved first. Equation (18)

is updated from the solution of the MPP and solved until solution

convergence. The typical convergence criterion can be the quantitative evaluation of the absolute difference, jd k d k1 j, or a

weighted sum of jd k d k1 j and jzd k zd k1 j. The iteration stops when the differential measure is less than a reasonably

small value; otherwise, it terminates when k is larger than the

allowable iteration number.

It is worth noting that the derived first-order formulation of the

probabilistic constraint in Eq. (23) is capable of finding the optimal solution with the desired failure probability when the original

constraint g is linear or is very close to linear near the optimal solution using the first-order reliability method (FORM). However,

the solution accuracy will decrease when the original constraint

becomes highly nonlinear. The inaccuracy caused by the nonlinearity has been studied and improved by methods proposed in

the literature [1320].

4.2 MRIA With Non-Normally Distributed Random

Variables. Similar to the TRIA, MRIA also requires a transformation from X-space to U-space. Although many non-normal distributions such as lognormal, Weibull, Gumbel, and uniform distributions can be transformed to the standard normal space, these

transformations will introduce two problems to MRIA. First,

some parts of the original design domain may be mapped to infinity. If any constraint falls into these regions, the MPP-search process in Eq. (4) may fail. Under this circumstance, the other RBDO

methods based on inverse reliability analysis [10,21,22] are

APRIL 2011, Vol. 133 / 044501-3

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capable of finding the inverse MPP to evaluate the failure probability. Only one exception for MRIA is the lognormally distributed variable because it can be easily transformed to U-space

without mapping to infinity. A simple derivation of variables with

lognormal distribution is presented in this section.

Second, function nonlinearity will be introduced after statistical

transformations. This nonlinearity will decrease the solution accuracy the same way as the problems caused by the nonlinearity in

the original constraints. Lee et al. [20] has presented accuracy

improvement on examples of normally distributed variables. Other

approaches in the literature [1319] may also be used to solve the

inaccuracy problem here. Therefore, further investigation is needed.

To demonstrate the MRIA with lognormal distribution, we consider the random variable, X, be independent and lognormally distributed and its jth component follows Xj LogNdj ; rj . Using

the transformation of X exp Y, an independent and normally

distributed random variable, Y, is obtained where its jth component follows Yj NdY;j ; rY;j and these two equations

r

rY;j ln 1 r2j dj2

(24)

dY;j ln dj 0:5r2Y;j

(25)

space to the standard normal space is established as

X expd Y rY U. The subproblem in Eq. (4) is then solved

to obtain the MPP and the modified reliability index is given by

the Eq. (8). Using the Eqs. (14) and (15), the original probabilistic

optimization problem with lognormally distributed random variables now becomes a solvable deterministic optimization problem

as follows

Min zd Y s:t: bM d Y bf

dY

(26)

space to the standard normal space includes design-dependent parameters in Eqs. (24) and (25). These two parameters should be

updated prior to the MPP-searching subproblem using the following two iterative schemes

s

k

k1 2

k1 2

dj

(27)

rY;j ln 1 rj

k

k1

dY;j ln dj

2

k

0:5 rY;j

Fig. 4

Eq. (3) gives the same evaluation of Eq. (8) for a feasible

solution.

0 0

If an infeasible solution, d1 ; d2 2:5; 2:5, is chosen as the

starting point, the TRIA will use Eq. (3) to formulate an incorrect

subproblem and have difficulty in finding the solution; however,

the MRIA can reach the converged solution quickly. Fortunately,

in this example, the TRIA can return to the feasible region gradually and eventually reaches the correct optimal solution.

Figure 5 shows the iteration process of another different point,

0 0

d1 ; d2 2; 2, using the TRIA. The iteration process converges at a wrong design of d1 ; d2 1; 1. The same starting

point is used in the MRIA and the optimal solution is obtained in

two iterations as shown in Fig. 6.

The first example with three different starting points shows that

the TRIA suffers from inefficiency and convergence problems

(28)

These updating schemes do not cost any additional function evaluations of the performance constraints; however, the varying standard deviations do decrease the convergence efficiency of the

MRIA. In Sec. 5, the optimization processes of solving the mathematical problems with lognormally distributed random variables

are demonstrated.

Numerical Examples

mathematical RBDO problem is solved in the first example. The

problem has been studied and found unstable if the TRIA is used

in [10]. The math problem is shown as follows

Min zd d1 d2

d

s:t:

Pg2 X 2X1 X2 10 > 0 3%

p

d1 ; d2 2 1 ; 10; r1 ; r2 1= 3

0

(29)

point, both the TRIA and MRIA arrive at the exactly same solu044501-4 / Vol. 133, APRIL 2011

Initial

TRIA

Cost

[5, 5]

[2.5, 2.5]

[2, 2]

MRIA

[5, 5]

[2.5, 2.5]

[2, 2]

Fig. 6

while the MRIA with the new reliability index, bM , can arrive at

the optimal solution quickly without any problem.

Table 1 lists the comparison of TRIA and MRIA with different

initial design points, indicating TRIA may provide wrong optimal

solutions or have inefficient optimization process with infeasible

starting points. The detailed optimization information is listed in

Table 2. The Monte Carlo simulations (MCS) confirm TRIA can

find the correct solutions with the initial designs 5; 5 and

2:5; 2:5 but fail to find the correct solution for design 1; 1.

MRIA is capable of finding the correct solutions for all conditions

with linear constraints.

5.2 Example 2: Mathematical Problem. The second example is also a very well-known benchmark mathematical example

that has been solved by many RBDO methods [10,19,2327]. The

problem has three probabilistic constraints as follows

8.36

8.36

2

8.36

8.36

8.36

Optimal

[4.0683, 4.2917] 66

[4.0683, 4.2917] 360

[1, 1]

96

[4.0683, 4.2917] 66

[4.0683, 4.2917] 66

[4.0683, 4.2917] 66

2

12

2

2

2

2

1.9950=3.0013

2.0061=3.0056

100=100

1.9963=3.0026

2.0012=3.0055

1.9932=2.9951

TRIA and MRIA; both methods generated the same solution and

have identical iteration history as shown in Fig. 7. Both methods

reach the optimal solution in 4 iterations (Iter.) and need 248 function evaluations (FEs).

Then, an infeasible starting point 1:5; 3:5 is used and other

conditions are kept as the same. As a result, the TRIA stops at the

fifth iteration due to the termination criterion in Ref. [23] with

297 FEs. The final solution is located at 1:8758; 1:926 and the

cost function equals to 3.8017. The MCS shows the failure probability for the first constraint almost equal to 99.990%, which is

totally not acceptable. The MRIA under the same settings

achieves the convergence with only 247 FEs and 4 iterations. The

optimal solution, 3:439; 3:2866, is the same as that from the previous initial design, which indicates that the proposed algorithm

provides the same optimal results despite the choice of initial

design variables. The results using both methods are listed in

Table 3 for comparison.

Finally, the same problem with an infeasible starting point 1; 4

is solved by the TRIA and the MRIA. The TRIA leads the design

points to their lower bounds and the failure probability of the first

constraint is found 100%, as the MRIA is capable of finding the

correct optimal solution.

Table 3 lists the contrastive results between the TRIA and the

MRIA with infeasible starting points. The detailed optimization

information and the MCS results are shown in Table 4. As a

result, the TRIA fails to provide a desired optimal solution when

the infeasible starting points are utilized; on the contrary, the

MRIA does not have such limitation from which the TRIA is suffered and is able to find correct solutions despite the locations of

Min zd d1 d2

d

s:t: P g1 1 X12 X2 20 > 0 Pf

X1 X2 52 X1 X2 122

P g2 1

> 0 Pf

30

120

P g3 1 80 X12 8X2 5 > 0 Pf

d1 ; d2 2 0:1 ; 10; r1 ; r2 0:3; Pf 0:13%

(30)

The initial design 5; 5. The termination criteria in [23] are used

where both the maximum iteration numbers of the MPP subproblem and the global iteration loop cannot exceed five. The optimization process stops when the relative difference of the objective

Table 1 Comparison of TRIA and MRIA in example 1

TRIA

Initial design

[5, 5]

[2.5, 2.5]

[2, 2]

a

MRIA

Converged

Efficient

Converged

Efficient

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Noa

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fig. 7

TRIA

Initial design

MRIA

Converged

Efficient

Converged

Efficient

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

[5, 5]

[1.5, 3.5]

[1, 4]

very close to the desired probability due to the error in the firstorder reliability method. The methods to resolve the inaccuracy due

to the nonlinear constraints have been studied in Refs. [1320].

5.3 Example 3: Mathematical Problem With Lognormally

Distributed Random Variables. The third example follows

example 2 but the variables are lognormally distributed. Besides

the distributions of the random variables, the problem settings are

the same as Eq. (30) while the allowable failure probabilities, the

initial designs, the standard deviations, and the termination criteria have no differences as well.

In the case of the feasible design 5; 5, TRIA and MRIA are

identical where totally 5 iterations and 582 FEs are used to satisfy

the convergence criteria. The iteration history is shown in Fig. 8.

The approximate probabilistic constraints are nonlinear due to

transformation from the normal design space to the lognormal

design space. The details about the optimal solutions with lognormally distributed random variables are shown in Table 6. The

MCS shows the failure probabilities of the optimal solutions are

of acceptance. Compared with the optimization process with the

normally distributed initial design 5; 5, more iterations and function evaluations are required because the mapping coefficients in

Eqs. (27) and (28) vary with the design points for the lognormally

distributed random variables.

In the other case of an infeasible design point 1:5; 3:5, both

the TRIA and the MRIA can find optimal solutions with acceptable failure probabilities. However, when an infeasible design

point 1:5; 4 is used, the TRIA leads the optimal solution to

0:8638; 0:4821 where the failure property of the first constraint

is 100%. The MRIA still can find the optimal solution with acceptable failure probabilities. Table 5 shows that the unstableness

and inconsistency in which the TRIA finds an acceptable solution

for one of the case with the infeasible starting point 1:5; 3:5 but

leads to 100% of failure probability for the other one with the

starting point 1; 4. Unlike the unstableness in the TRIA, the

MRIA provides the optimal solutions with acceptable failure

probabilities in spite of the feasibility of the starting point. The

detailed optimization information is listed in Table 6.

Fig. 8

during the optimization iteration. The convergence problem of the

latter kind in the TRIA is from the definition of the traditional

reliability index. The original reliability index is defined as the

shortest distance between the origin and the failure region in the

normalized space. If any design is within the failure region, this

definition of reliability index becomes invalid. However, the MPP

suboptimization problem of the TRIA will still return a MPP solution. Consequently, the TRIA may generate erratic solutions.

To correct this problem, a new definition of the reliability index

is proposed to correct this problem and a modified reliability

index approach using the new definition is developed. Numerical

examples using both the TRIA and the MRIA are compared and

discussed. The results show that the TRIA may provide incorrect

constraint approximations and lead to the unstableness of the optimization process, while the MRIA can always reach the optimal

solution efficiently.

The MRIA has only been implemented to problems with normally distributed and=or lognormally distributed variables. This is

Table 5 Comparison of TRIA and MRIA in example 3

TRIA

MRIA

Initial design

Converged

Efficient

Converged

Efficient

Since the convergence problems from numerical singularities

associated with very small standard deviations are not very common in engineering practice, the focus of this paper is on the convergence problems from the incorrect evaluations of the failure

[5, 5]

[1.5, 3.5]

[1, 4]

Yes

Accepteda

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Conclusions

Initial

TRIA

[5, 5]

[1.5, 3.5]

[1, 4]

MRIA [5, 5]

[1.5, 3.5]

[1, 4]

Cost

Optimal

6.7256

3.8017

0.2

6.7256

6.7256

6.7256

[3.439, 3.2866]

[1.8758, 1.926]

[0.1, 0.1]

[3.439, 3.2866]

[3.439, 3.2866]

[3.439, 3.2866]

248

297

284

248

247

254

4

5

4

4

4

4

0.1454=0.1182=0

99.990=0.1067=0

100=0=0.711

0.1483=0.1065=0

0.1513=0.1085=0

0.1432=0.1134=0

Initial

TRIA

[5, 5]

[1.5, 3.5]

[1, 4]

MRIA [5, 5]

[1.5, 3.5]

[1, 4]

Cost

Optimal

6.5855

6.5955

1.3459

6.5855

6.5826

6.5904

[3.4009, 3.1846]

[3.4364, 3.159]

[0.8638, 0.4821]

[3.4009, 3.1846]

[3.3997, 3.1829]

[3.3989, 3.1915]

321

344

384

321

340

375

5

5

5

5

5

5

0.3339=0.1102=0

0.1044=0.1743=0

100=0.072=0

0.1342=0.1111=0

0.1444=0.1194=0

0.1356=0.0996=0

because parts of the original design space may be mapped into infinity during statistical transformations. If any constraint falls into

these regions, the MPP-search process may fail. Solution to this

important issue may require a new formulation and it is currently

under further investigation.

References

[1] Hasofer, A. M., and Lind, N. C., 1974, Exact and Invariant Second-Moment

Code Format, J. Engrg. Mech. Div., 100(EM1), pp. 111121.

[2] Nikolaidis, E., and Burdisso, R., 1988, Reliability Based Optimization: A

Safety Index Approach, Comput. Struct., 28(6), pp. 781788.

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