Identification of the Dynamical Properties of Structures Using Free Vibration Data and Distributed Genetic Algorithms


The dynamical properties of structures, such as natural frequencies, damping ratios and mode shapes, can be obtained by several identification methods. Some are based on the direct signal processing in a time domain; others transform response data to the frequency domain. The development of these techniques is useful in the production of more accurate structural models; they can be also used to test the level of damage in structures (or verify their strength to support new load actions) by using experimental data. There are situations where frequency domain algorithms and conventional system identification techniques fail, do not allow adequate solution of the identification problems or become trapped in a local optimum. It is in these cases where evolutionary optimization techniques are important tools for evaluating the dynamical properties of structural systems in practical applications. This article presents a methodology to determine the dynamic properties of structures knowing their response in terms of displacement, velocities or accelerations in the time domain when they are subjected to a free vibration excitation. In order to do that, a specialized evolutionary algorithm capable of adapting its parameters to the different types of registers obtained from the dynamic time response of a structure is implemented in a robust way, making this approach useful in practical situations. A distributed real genetic algorithm (DRGA) based on an island model of different subpopulations is used to adjust a simulated response signal of a building to the real response signal. Initially, computer-generated synthetic response signals are used but, in future, the approach will be validated with signals obtained from free vibration experimental tests and will be extended to other types of dynamical excitation signals. Finally, the method will be tested with data obtained from earthquake events.