UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An application of selected artificial intelligence techniques to engineering analysis Forde, Bruce W. R.


This thesis explores the application of some of the more practical artificial intelligence (Al) techniques developed to date in the field of engineering analysis. The limitations of conventional computer-aided analysis programs provide the motivation for knowledge automation and development of a hybrid approach for constructing and controlling engineering analysis software. Artificial intelligence technology used in this thesis includes: object-oriented programming, generic application frameworks, event-driven architectures, and knowledge-based expert systems. Emphasis is placed on the implementation-independent description of objects, classes, methods, and inheritance using a simple graphical representation. The kinds of knowledge used in the analysis process, the programs that control this knowledge, and the resources that perform numerical computation are described as part of a hybrid system for engineering analysis. Modelling, solution, and interpretation activities are examined for a generic problem and a control framework is adopted for event-driven operation. An intelligent finite element analysis program called "SNAP" is developed to demonstrate the application of Al in the numerical analysis of two-dimensional linear problems in solid and structural mechanics. A step-by-step discussion is given for the design, implementation, and operation of the SNAP software to provide a clear understanding of the principles involved. The general conclusion of this thesis is that a variety of artificial intelligence techniques can be used to significantly improve the engineering analysis process, and that much research is still to be done. A series of projects suitable for completion by graduate students in the field of structural engineering are described at the end of the thesis.

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