Optimization is the act of obtaining the best result under given circumstances. In design, construction, and maintenance of any engineering system, engineers have to take many technological and managerial decisions at several stages.

PDF) Engineering Optimization

The ultimate goal of all such decisions is either to minimize the effort required or to maximize the desired benefit. Since the effort required or the benefit desired in any practical situation can be expressed as a function of certain decision variables, optimization can be defined as the process of finding the conditions that give the maximum or minimum value of a function.

It can be seen from Fig. 1.1 that if a point x ∗ corresponds to the minimum value of function f (x), the same point also corresponds to the maximum value of the negative of the function, −f (x). Thus without loss of generality, optimization can be taken to mean minimization since the maximum of a function can be found by seeking the minimum of the negative of the same function.

There is no single method available for solving all optimization problems efficiently. Hence a number of optimization methods have been developed for solving different types of optimization problems. The optimum seeking methods are also known as mathematical programming techniques and are generally studied as a part of operations research.

Operations research is a branch of mathematics concerned with the
application of scientific methods and techniques to decision making problems and with establishing the best or optimal solutions. The beginnings of the subject of operations research can be traced to the early period of World War II. During the war, the British military faced the problem of allocating very scarce and limited resources (such as
fighter airplanes, radars, and submarines) to several activities (deployment to numerous targets and destinations).

Because there were no systematic methods available to
solve resource allocation problems, the military called upon a team of mathematicians to develop methods for solving the problem in a scientific manner. The methods developed by the team were instrumental in the winning of the Air Battle by Britain. These methods, such as linear programming, which were developed as a result of research on (military) operations, subsequently became known as the methods of operations

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