Optimization techniques for identifying soil parameters in geotechnical engineering: Comparative study and enhancement

Zhen Yu Yin, Yin Fu Jin, Jack Shuilong Shen, Pierre Yves Hicher

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

167 Citations (Scopus)


A comparative study of optimization techniques for identifying soil parameters in geotechnical engineering was first presented. The identification methodology with its 3 main parts, error function, search strategy, and identification procedure, was introduced and summarized. Then, current optimization methods were reviewed and classified into 3 categories with an introduction to their basic principles and applications in geotechnical engineering. A comparative study on the identification of model parameters from a synthetic pressuremeter and an excavation tests was then performed by using 5 among the mostly common optimization methods, including genetic algorithms, particle swarm optimization, simulated annealing, the differential evolution algorithm and the artificial bee colony algorithm. The results demonstrated that the differential evolution had the strongest search ability but the slowest convergence speed. All the selected methods could reach approximate solutions with very small objective errors, but these solutions were different from the preset parameters. To improve the identification performance, an enhanced algorithm was developed by implementing the Nelder-Mead simplex method in a differential algorithm to accelerate the convergence speed with strong reliable search ability. The performance of the enhanced optimization algorithm was finally highlighted by identifying the Mohr-Coulomb parameters from the 2 same synthetic cases and from 2 real pressuremeter tests in sand, and ANICREEP parameters from 2 real pressuremeter tests in soft clay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-94
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • excavation
  • finite element method
  • hybrid algorithm
  • optimization
  • parameters identification
  • pressuremeter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials

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