Singularities in Structural Optimization of the Ziegler Pendulum

O. N. Kirillov


Structural optimization of non-conservative systems with respect to stability criteria is a research area with important applications in fluid-structure interactions, friction-induced instabilities, and civil engineering. In contrast to optimization of conservative systems where rigorously proven optimal solutions in buckling problems have been found, for nonconservative optimization problems only numerically optimized designs have been reported. The proof of optimality in non-conservative optimization problems is a mathematical challenge related to multiple eigenvalues, singularities in the stability domain, and non-convexity of the merit functional. We present here a study of optimal mass distribution in a classical Ziegler pendulum where local and global extrema can be found explicitly. In particular, for the undamped case, the two maxima of the critical flutter load correspond to a vanishing mass either in a joint or at the free end of the pendulum; in the minimum, the ratio of the masses is equal to the ratio of the stiffness coefficients. The role of the singularities on the stability boundary in the optimization is highlighted, and an extension to the damped case as well as to the case of higher degrees of freedom is discussed.


circulatory system; structural optimization; Ziegler pendulum; Beck column; flutter; divergence; damping; Whitney umbrella

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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague