Single-step deep reinforcement learning for two- and three-dimensional optimal shape design
This research gauges the capabilities of deep reinforcement learning (DRL) techniques for direct optimal shape design in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) systems. It uses policy based optimization, a single-step DRL algorithm intended for situations where the optimal policy to be learnt by a neural network does not depend on state. The numerical reward fed to the neural network is computed with an in-house stabilized finite elements environment combining variational multi-scale modeling of
... governing equations, immerse volume method, and multi-component anisotropic mesh adaptation. Several cases are tackled in two and three dimensions, for which shapes with fixed camber line, angle of attack, and cross-sectional area are generated by varying a chord length and a symmetric thickness distribution (and possibly extruding in the off-body direction). At a zero incidence, the proposed DRL-CFD framework successfully reduces the drag of the equivalent cylinder (i.e., the cylinder of same cross-sectional area) by 48% at a Reynolds numbers in the range of a few hundreds. At an incidence of 30°, it increases the lift to drag ratio of the equivalent ellipse by 13% in two dimensions and 5% in three dimensions at a chord Reynolds numbers in the range of a few thousands. Although the low number of degrees of freedom inevitably constrains the range of attainable shapes, the optimal is systematically found to perform just as well as a conventional airfoil, despite DRL starting from the ground up and having no a priori knowledge of aerodynamic concepts. Such results showcase the potential of the method for black-box shape optimization of practically meaningful CFD systems. Since the resolution process is agnostic to details of the underlying fluid dynamics, they also pave the way for a general evolution of reference shape optimization strategies for fluid mechanics and any other domain where a relevant reward function can be defined.