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Title: A framework for evolutionary optimization applications in water distribution systems
Author: Morley, Mark S.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3422 1555
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2008
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The application of optimization to Water Distribution Systems encompasses the use of computer-based techniques to problems of many different areas of system design, maintenance and operational management. As well as laying out the configuration of new WDS networks, optimization is commonly needed to assist in the rehabilitation or reinforcement of existing network infrastructure in which alternative scenarios driven by investment constraints and hydraulic performance are used to demonstrate a cost-benefit relationship between different network intervention strategies. Moreover, the ongoing operation of a WDS is also subject to optimization, particularly with respect to the minimization of energy costs associated with pumping and storage and the calibration of hydraulic network models to match observed field data. Increasingly, Evolutionary Optimization techniques, of which Genetic Algorithms are the best-known examples, are applied to aid practitioners in these facets of design, management and operation of water distribution networks as part of Decision Support Systems (DSS). Evolutionary Optimization employs processes akin to those of natural selection and “survival of the fittest” to manipulate a population of individual solutions, which, over time, “evolve” towards optimal solutions. Such algorithms are characterized, however, by large numbers of function evaluations. This, coupled with the computational complexity associated with the hydraulic simulation of water networks incurs significant computational overheads, can limit the applicability and scalability of this technology in this domain. Accordingly, this thesis presents a methodology for applying Genetic Algorithms to Water Distribution Systems. A number of new procedures are presented for improving the performance of such algorithms when applied to complex engineering problems. These techniques approach the problem of minimising the impact of the inherent computational complexity of these problems from a number of angles. A novel genetic representation is presented which combines the algorithmic simplicity of the classical binary string of the Genetic Algorithm with the performance advantages inherent in an integer-based representation. Further algorithmic improvements are demonstrated with an intelligent mutation operator that “learns” which genes have the greatest impact on the quality of a solution and concentrates the mutation operations on those genes. A technique for implementing caching of solutions – recalling the results for solutions that have already been calculated - is demonstrated to reduce runtimes for Genetic Algorithms where applied to problems with significant computation complexity in their evaluation functions. A novel reformulation of the Genetic Algorithm for implementing robust stochastic optimizations is presented which employs the caching technology developed to produce an multiple-objective optimization methodology that demonstrates dramatically improved quality of solutions for given runtime of the algorithm. These extensions to the Genetic Algorithm techniques are coupled with a supporting software library that represents a standardized modelling architecture for the representation of connected networks. This library gives rise to a system for distributing the computational load of hydraulic simulations across a network of computers. This methodology is established to provide a viable, scalable technique for accelerating evolutionary optimization applications.
Supervisor: Savic, Dragan Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Evolutionary Optimization ; Genetic Algorithms ; Hydroinformatics ; Caching ; Multiple-Objective Optimization ; Distributed Computing