StructNet: A neural network for structural system selection

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This paper describes StructNet, a computer application developed to select the most effective structural member materials given a building project's attributes. The system analyzes 15 parameters of a building project (e.g., available site space, budget, height) and determines the most appropriate structural system for the beam, column, and slab structural members. This paper first describes the process for selecting a structural system for a building. It was very important to understand this process before determining the best type and structure for the computer application. Then a comparison between a neural network approach and a rule-based expert-system approach for this application is presented. A discussion of the reasons for selecting a neural network approach is given. The StructNet application is described in detail, including the testing of the network. Along with the testing of the network is a discussion of how varying the learning rate and error limit affect the performance of the neural network application. The testing of the network shows that the program can reasonably select the same structural system types as the expert used to collect the training project data. Since the system will be used only as a preliminary tool to limit the number of possible structural systems for a project, the accuracy of the system is acceptable. However, additional experimentation needs to be conducted to determine the accuracy and practical use of this application. The final sections of the paper discuss the lack of adequate testing procedures for neural networks used in applications for unstructured or ill-defined decision making. The use of these types of networks and their relevance to the civil engineering computer field are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalMicrocomputers in Civil Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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