Computational framework for efficient high-fidelity optimization of bio-inspired propulsion and its application to accelerating swimmers

Ahmed Abouhussein, Yulia T. Peet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new computational framework for high-fidelity optimization of kinematic gaits during self-propelled undulatory swimming is developed. A computational framework utilizes a spectral-element method on moving body-fitted grids for a simulation of self-propelled swimming, and a surrogate-based optimization (SBO) procedure. A new volume-conservation method for reconstruction of a swimmer's geometry during the undulatory motion is proposed to ensure numerical stability of the fluid-structure interaction solver in an incompressible flow framework. A surrogate-based optimization algorithm that utilizes a Kriging response surface method is adopted and further developed in this work to manage the optimization process in the presence of physiological constraints on the fish body motion. A grid convergence of the optimization results is established, and the influence of the polynomial refinement on the results of optimization procedure is assessed. The increase in polynomial order does not change the optimum gaits of locomotion or relative efficiency rankings between the modes, but it results in slightly lower predicted efficiency for all the modes. The optimum solution is characterized by a kinematic gait that generates the reverse Karman vortex street associated with high propulsive efficiency. Efficiency of sub-optimum modes is found to increase with both the tail amplitude and the effective flapping length of the swimmer, and a new scaling law is proposed to capture these trends. Lastly, the SBO algorithm converged to an optimized gate with significantly less function evaluations than typically observed for evolutionary algorithms. This suggests that the SBO framework is a well suited alternative for high-fidelity optimization of fluid and structure problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112038
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023


  • Accelerating fish
  • Bio-inspired propulsion
  • Polynomial refinement
  • Scaling laws
  • Spectral-element method
  • Surrogate-based optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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