A constraint is a condition that the solution of an optimization problem must satisfy. In the table example we saw earlier, the constraints could be:

  • 'the table must have four legs'

  • 'the table must be at least 50cm wide'

  • 'the table may be no more than 1m tall', or

  • 'the table cannot be blue'.

Constraints give a model its realism; they ensure that a solution only includes realistic values or values that the user knows are critical to the design brief.

If a model is unconstrained, it's likely to return absurd results that aren’t useful, for example, here it could be a circular table that is three metres high with a single leg that balances on a point.

Constraints are vital because they ensure that a generative design algorithm outputs something realistic and reasonable.

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