Cuckoos have an aggressive reproduction strategy that involves the female laying her fertilised eggs in the nest of another species so that the surrogate parents unwittingly raise her brood. Sometimes the cuckoo’s egg in the nest is discovered and the surrogate parents throw it out or abandon the nest and start their own brood elsewhere.
The team base their design search on three simple principles that emerge from the cuckoo’s strategy:
* First, each cuckoo lays one egg (a design solution) at a time, and dumps it in a randomly chosen nest.
* Second, the best nests with a high quality egg (better solution) carry over to the next generation.
* Third, the number of available host nests is fixed, and a host and there is a finite probability of the cuckoo in the nest being discovered.
The team have encapsulated these three principles in a mathematical formula that they then converted to computer software code. The various design parameters and constraints are fed to the software, which tests each “egg” discarding some based on lack of fitness and sending the successful solutions through a second round and so on until an optimal solution emerges.
The team has carried out standard mathematical design tests on their cuckoo search, which itself has now been optimised and also compared it with particle swarm optimisation and other techniques to show that it is more efficient than these other approaches to engineering design of a welded beam and a spring, two key engineering components of many structures. Read more