Refinement of damage identification capability of neural network techniques in application to a suspension bridge

J. Y. Wang, Yiqing Ni

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The idea of using measured dynamic characteristics for damage detection is attractive because it allows for a global evaluation of the structural health and condition. However, vibration-based damage detection for complex structures such as long-span cable-supported bridges still remains a challenge. As a suspension or cable-stayed bridge involves in general thousands of structural components, the conventional damage detection methods based on model updating and/or parameter identification might result in ill-conditioning and non-uniqueness in the solution of inverse problems. Alternatively, methods that utilize, to the utmost extent, information from forward problems and avoid direct solution to inverse problems would be more suitable for vibration-based damage detection of long-span cable-supported bridges. The auto-associative neural network (ANN) technique and the probabilistic neural network (PNN) technique, that both eschew inverse problems, have been proposed for identifying and locating damage in suspension and cable-stayed bridges. Without the help of a structural model, ANNs with appropriateconfiguration can be trained using only the measured modal frequencies from healthy structure under varying environmental conditions, and a new set of modal frequency data acquired from an unknown state of the structure is then fed into the trained ANNs for damage presence identification. With the help of a structural model, PNNs can be configured using the relative changes of modal frequencies before and after damage by assuming damage at different locations, and then the measured modal frequencies from the structure can be presented to locate the damage. However, such formulated ANNs and PNNs may still be incompetent to identify damage occurring at the deck members of a cable-supported bridge because of very low modal sensitivity to the damage. The present study endeavors to enhance the damage identification capability of ANNs and PNNs when being applied for identification of damage incurred at deck members. Effort is first made to construct combined modal parameters which are synthesized from measured modal frequencies and modal shape components to train ANNs for damage alarming. With the purpose of improving identification accuracy, effort is then made to configure PNNs for damage localization by adapting the smoothing parameter in the Bayesian classifier to different values for different pattern classes. The performance of the ANNs with their input being modal frequencies and the combined modal parameters respectively and the PNNs with constant and adaptive smoothing parameters respectively is evaluated through simulation studies of identifying damage inflicted on different deck members of the double-deck suspension Tsing Ma Bridge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-93
Number of pages17
JournalStructural Monitoring and Maintenance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Auto-associative neural network
  • Probabilistic neural network
  • Structural health monitoring
  • Suspension bridge
  • Vibration-based damageidentification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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