On symmetry and non-uniqueness in exact topology optimization

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

38 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this article is to initiate an exchange of ideas on symmetry and non-uniqueness in topology optimization. These concepts are discussed in the context of 2D trusses and grillages, but could be extended to other structures and design constraints, including 3D problems and numerical solutions. The treatment of the subject is pitched at the background of engineering researchers, and principles of mechanics are given preference to those of pure mathematics. The author hopes to provide some new insights into fundamental properties of exact optimal topologies. Combining elements of the optimal layout theory (of Prager and the author) with those of linear programming, it is concluded that for the considered problems the optimal topology is in general unique and symmetric if the loads, domain boundaries and supports are symmetric. However, in some special cases the number of optimal solutions may be infinite, and some of these may be non-symmetric. The deeper reasons for the above findings are explained in the light of the above layout theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-317
Number of pages21
JournalStructural and Multidisciplinary Optimization
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2011



  • Grillages
  • Non-uniqueness
  • Optimal layout theory
  • Symmetry
  • Topology optimization
  • Trusses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Control and Optimization

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