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OpenMDAO: An open-source framework for multidisciplinary design, analysis, and optimization

TitleOpenMDAO: An open-source framework for multidisciplinary design, analysis, and optimization
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsGray, JS, Hwang, JT, Martins, JRRA, Moore, KT, Naylor, BA
JournalStructural and Multidisciplinary Optimization
Date PublishedApril
KeywordsMDO, OpenMDAO

Multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) is concerned with solving design problems involving coupled numerical models of complex engineering systems. While various MDO software frameworks exist, none of them take full advantage of state-of-the-art algorithms to solve coupled models efficiently. Furthermore, there is a need to facilitate the computation of the derivatives of these coupled models for use with gradient-based optimization algorithms to enable optimization with respect to large numbers of design variables. In this paper, we present the theory and architecture of OpenMDAO, an open-source MDO framework that uses Newton-type algorithms to solve coupled systems and exploits problem structure through new hierarchical strategies to achieve high computational efficiency. OpenMDAO also provides a framework for computing coupled derivatives efficiently and in a way that exploits problem sparsity. We demonstrate the framework's efficiency by benchmarking scalable test problems. We also summarize a number of OpenMDAO applications previously reported in the literature, which include trajectory optimization, wing design, and structural topology optimization, demonstrating that the framework is effective in both coupling existing models and developing new multidisciplinary models from the ground up. Given the potential of the OpenMDAO framework, we expect the number of users and developers to continue growing, enabling even more diverse applications in engineering analysis and design.


For a quick overview of what OpenMDAO is and what it does, read the introduction, the overview of applications (Sec. 7, especially Table 13), and the conclusions (Sec. 8). Potential OpenMDAO users should also read Sec. 3, which explains the basic usage and features through a simple example. The rest of the paper provides a background on MDO frameworks and the history of OpenMDAO development (Sec. 2), the theory behind OpenMDAO (Sec. 4), and the details of the major new contributions in OpenMDAO V2 in terms of multidisciplinary solvers (Sec. 5) and coupled derivative computation (Sec. 6).

Citation KeyGray2019a