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Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118

An optimization approach for fairing of

ship hull forms
Ebru Sario z

Faculty of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, Istanbul Technical University,

Maslak, Istanbul 34469, Turkey
Received 17 May 2005; accepted 23 November 2005
Available online 29 March 2006
This paper presents a numerical fairing procedure to be used at the preliminary design stage
to create high-quality ship hull form geometry. The procedure is based on a variational
optimization approach in which a fairness measure related to the surface curvature is the
objective function to be minimized subject to a set of geometric constraints to ensure that the
nal form has the required geometric characteristics. The optimization variables are selected
as the control points of a B-spline surface representing the initial hull form. A nonlinear direct
search technique is employed to solve the problem. The methodology is applied for typical
ship forms to indicate that, provided that the designer can specify appropriate design
objectives and geometric constraints, the methodology can produce alternative hull forms with
signicantly improved fairing characteristics. The choice of the fairness objective function is
shown to have a crucial effect on the quality of the hull surface. Highly nonlinear exact
fairness functionals yield surfaces of high quality at the expense of high-computerized effort.
r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: B-splines; Ship hull form fairing; Variational optimization
0029-8018/$ - see front matter r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Tel.: +90 212 285 63 96; fax: +90 212 285 65 08.
E-mail address: narli@itu.edu.tr.
1. Introduction
Development of a three-dimensional fair hull form is one of the main design
requirements in the design of a marine vehicle. The nal hull form must satisfy both
the desired shape and performance characteristics. During the early stages of the
design process there is little data available to produce a fair hull form and the
designer often initiates the process with a rough sketch or few hull form parameters
based on experience or empirical methods. In the past this was sufcient for
simplied analytic approximations used for performance predictions. However,
today designers require more accurate predictions on the performance characteristics
of their designs and modern computing technology now available enables
more extensive analysis to be carried out. Therefore the designer will require a
precisely dened three-dimensional fair hull form even in the earlier stages of the
design process.
Ship hull form surface is traditionally determined by a set of control points called
offsets. Physical splines have long been used in drafting and design to construct fair
curves that pass through specied offset points. The manual method requires the
fairing of two-dimensional design curves on several planes in an iterative manner.
However, this iterative process requires excessive time and experienced personnel,
neither of which may be available in a tight-scheduled modern ship design process.
Fairing of ship hull forms has been one of the earlier applications of computers
into shipbuilding (Berger et al., 1966; Hattori and Matida, 1977). These applications
have generally been local and interactive where the shape is altered locally by an
experienced designer (Fog, 1985; Horsham, 1988). However, the complex shape of
the hulls has large number of offsets and it is not surprising to produce forms with
wrinkles or any other aws in parts of the surface. Furthermore, the interactive local
fairing methods cannot ensure that three-dimensional fairness is achieved.
Parametric B-spline curves and surfaces are widely used to represent ship hull
forms (Rogers, 1977). The main reason is that they have many superior geometric
properties compared to other mathematical representation schemes (Rogers and
Adams, 1989). B-splines have the capability to represent any complex shaped
geometry such as ship hull forms, and therefore they have emerged as the de-facto
industrial standard in the eld of computer aided ship design (CASD). Fairness of a
B-spline surface will depend on the quality of control point data. In many cases the
designer must eliminate undesirable shape features in order to produce a smoother
shape. While removing undesirable shape irregularities the designer must also
preserve the shape and keep the form as close to the original as possible in order not
to degrade specic performance characteristics. Although many ship hull form
design software based on nonuniform rational B-splines (NURBS) are commercially
available the designer still faces undesirable shape features in hull form surfaces that
must be eliminated.
Since the 1970s there have been numerous attempts to produce automated fairing
procedures for curves and surfaces. Pramila (1978) used linearized fairness
functional which minimizes strain energy for ship hull surfaces. McCallum and
Zhang (1986) described an automatic smoothing algorithm based on B-splines
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2106
curvature behavior property and applied this to some curve forms used in ship
design. Nowacki et al. (1989) described a surface approximation scheme based on
minimization of the sum of the strain energy of mesh lines and the potential energy
of springs attached to the data points. Rogers and Fog (1989) applied their
constrained B-spline curve/surface-tting algorithm to ship hull forms to generate
dening polygons for curves and dening polygonal nets for surfaces. Sapidis and
Farin (1990) proposed an automatic fairing algorithm for B-spline curves. The
algorithm is based on removing and reinserting knots of the spline. Liu et al. (1991)
introduced constrained smoothing B-spline curve tting for mesh curves of ships by
minimizing an energy functional as a fairness measure. Huanzong et al. (1991)
proposed a fairing method by minimizing the elastic strain energy of mesh curves of
hull surfaces. Moreton and Sequin (1992) applied nonlinear optimization techniques
to minimize a fairness functional based on variation of curvature. Nowacki et al.
(1992) generated an optimized rectangular network over the data of the ship hull and
then constructed a curvature-continuous shape over the network. Nowacki and Lu
(1994) proposed procedures for developing fair curves under constraints in which the
fairness criterion is based on the linear combination of the square of the second- and
the third-derivative norm and the constraints apply to approximation conditions,
end conditions and an integral condition pertaining to the area under the curve.
Pigounakis and Kaklis (1996) developed a two stage automatic algorithm for fairing
cubic parametric B-splines under convexity, tolerance and end constraints. An
iterative knot removal and reinsertion technique is employed which adopts the
curvature-slope discontinuity as the fairness measure. Pigounakis et al. (1996)
proposed three algorithms for fairing spatial B-spline curves: local fairing by knot
removal and local/global fairing based on energy minimization; Hahmann (1998)
proposed an automatic and local fairing algorithm for bi-cubic B-spline surfaces. In
the proposed method a local fairness criterion selects the knot where the spline needs
to be faired and the control net is modied by a constrained least-squares
approximation. Poliakoff et al. (1999) presented an automated curve-fairing
algorithm for cubic B-spline curves based on an extension of Kjellanders (1983)
algorithm, which is based on nding and correcting the offending data point. The
point to be faired is chosen by calculating for each point the distance to be moved
and then choosing the one for which the distance is greatest. Kantorowitz et al.
(2000) described a method for fairing ship hull lines which determines the suitable
number of control points to produce the required shape of the body sections; Yang
and Wang (2001) presented a method for planar curve fairing by minimal energy arc
splines where as a rst step the optimal tangents for curve interpolation are
computed and the point positions are adjusted by smoothing discrete curvatures.
Zhang et al. (2001) used strain energy minimization for fairing cubic spline curves
and surfaces. Westgaard and Nowacki (2001) suggested a stepwise automatic fairing
process to construct a smooth surface by optimizing suitably chosen quantitative
fairness measures. Kovibia and Pasadas (2004) presented an approximation method
of surfaces by a new type of splines called fairness bicubic splines, and the surface is
obtained by minimizing a quadratic fairness functional. Renka (2004) suggested a
new method for constructing discrete approximation to fair curves and surfaces by
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2107
directly minimizing an arbitrarily selected fairness functional subject to geometric
Generally, the outcome of the investigations in this area is the recommendation of
using nonlinear optimization techniques that minimize a fairness functional based on
the variation of curvature. Based on this outcome a numerical procedure using
functional optimization to improve the fairness of ship hull forms is presented. This
procedure is aimed at developing a practical design tool to create high-quality ship
hull form geometry at the preliminary design stage prior to any renements that are
necessary at the production stage. An initial hull form based on the experience of the
designer is assumed to be available. It is also assumed that the fairness quality of this
form is not sufcient for extensive performance analysis. The hull form fairing
problem is formulated as a nonlinear optimization problem in which the desired hull
form will be the one that satises various geometric constraints while minimizing (or
maximizing) a measure of form quality. A fairing functional based on geometric
surface properties can be dened and fairness is measured by assigning every
produced hull form a scalar value throughout the optimization process. Smaller
values of fairness numerals indicate fairer surfaces. The desired shape will be the one
that satises various geometric constraints while optimizing the measure of surface
quality. The optimization variables of the procedure are the control points of a
B-spline surface representing the initial hull form. These are obtained by applying a
B-spline surface tting procedure (Rogers and Adams, 1989).
In the rst part of the paper, formulation of the optimization procedure is
presented. It is shown that the hull form fairing process can be represented by a
nonlinear optimization problem where the optimization variables are the dening
control polygon of a B-spline surface representing the initial form and the objective
function to be minimized is a fairness functional based on principal curvatures of the
hull surface. Prior to the more complicated surface fairing problem the optimization-
based fairing procedure is tested in Section 3 for a typical curve representing a ship
section line. Section 4 presents typical examples of hull form fairing by using the
optimization-based fairing procedure.
2. Formulation of the optimization problem
The optimization of a ships hull form characteristics for improved fairness quality
can be described as a multivariable nonlinear constrained optimization problem:
min f X
subject to g
XX0 i 1; 2; . . . ; m,
where X x
; x
; . . . ; x

is the vector of design variables. Thus the aim is to nd
the value of X that yields the best value of the objective function, f(X), within a
design space dened by the constraints, g
(X). The structure of the hull form
optimization procedure is illustrated in Fig. 1.
An initial form which satises the required performance characteristics is assumed
to be available. In order to reduce the number of optimization variables and
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2108
maintain a certain level of fairness the control points of a B-spline surface
representing the parent hull form are selected as the optimization variables. The
longitudinal and vertical positions of the control vertices lie on a uniform
rectangular mesh on the vertical centreplane and only the transverse positions are
allowed to vary as optimization variables. This greatly simplies the problem as the
number of optimization variables is signicantly reduced.
Optimization methods attempt to nd the optimum shape of the B-spline surface
by nding a conguration of control points in which the suitable objective function is
The objective function of the problem is the fairness quality of the hull form,
which is a fuzzy notion, based on our perception of surface quality. Selection of the
suitable fairness measure is important. Most functionals used in CAGD are
quadratic polynomials of control points which are relatively easy to solve.
A standard approach for representing fairness of a surface in mathematical terms
is to consider the surface as a thin plate (Nowacki and Reese, 1983). The elastic
bending energy of a thin plate can be approximated:

dS, (1)
Fig. 1. Structure of hull form fairing procedure.
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2109
where k
and k
denote the principal curvatures of the surface S and dS denotes the
surface element. Using the notions of Gaussian curvature (k
) and mean
curvature k

instead of principal curvatures, the fairness functional
can be formulated as follows:

dS. (2)
The integral over Gaussian curvature can be expressed as an integral over the
boundary of S, which is kept xed during the fairing process. Hence the second term
in the fairness functional can be simplied as follows:

dS. (3)
This energy of the parametric surface is often used in surface tting and fairing for
smooth and natural shape. Global distribution of curvature is improved by
optimizing this quality criterion.
By using a B-spline surface representation for the hull forms, these scalar-valued
functions can be computed at every point on the B-spline surface. Therefore the
character of the hull surface is known in every part of the surface along with the
magnitudes. The following formulae are used to calculate the mean and Gaussian
curvatures (Dill, 1981):

, (4)

, (5)
where Q represents the B-spline surface and Q
, Q
, Q
, Q
, Q
its partial
A jQ
B jQ
C jQ
The variation of curvature on the hull surface can best be observed by colour-
coded curvature plots. It is accepted to be the best method to reveal surface
imperfections such as unintended inection points, compared with other methods
such as reection lines or contour lines (Beck et al., 1986).
The optimization problem as outlined is amenable to solution by nonlinear
programming techniques. Basically, the fairness functional dened in Eq. (3) is taken
as the objective function of the problem with related geometric and functional
constraints. The specication of constraints is an integral part of the optimization
process, which may be linear or nonlinear. The problem must be geometrically
constrained in order to produce realistic hull forms. Therefore, the linear geometric
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2110
constraints of the problem are dened as follows:
All offsets are positive and less or equal to maximum beam: 0py

Known offsets as lower bound of the hull: y

Known offsets as upper bound of the hull: y
where a and b are constants; ap1 and bX1.
Displacement is within specied limits: aDXDXbD,
where a and b are constants; aX1 and bp1.
Many techniques exist for solving optimization problems such as the one
described above; however, they vary greatly in efciency and the quality of the nal
solution for a given number of function evaluations. No single technique is best for
all design problems. Gradient-based methods work well with smooth, unimodal
functions, but may yield local optima for multimodal functions. Heuristic algorithms
can increase search efciency, but at the expense of guaranteed optimalitythey do
not always nd the global optimum. The Hooke and Jeeves (1961) direct search
method has been found to work well for the problem under discussion.
3. Fairing of curves
Before involving in surface optimization problems, consideration of two-
dimensional surface entities, i.e. curves will be rather benecial for the realization
of the underlying theory. Hence, the fairing objective to be minimized for curves can
be expressed as
ds. (7)
The fairness of a curve is intimately related to the distribution of curvature over
the form, favouring gradual transitions and avoiding abrupt changes. The curvature
k(t) of planar curves rt xt; yt have a positive or negative sign depending
whether it curves to left or right. Thus, this signed curvature is highly desirable to
detect inection points as well as convex and concave regions of a curve. Hence, the
signed curvature can be expressed as (Farin and Sapidis, 1989):
xt _ yt yt _ xt
_ xt
_ yt

. (8)
For the evaluation of curves, curvature plots are employed. The curvature plot
consists of segments normal to the curve emerging from a number of points on the
curve and whose lengths are proportional to the magnitude of curvature at the
associated point. The characteristics of a curve are evidenced by the undulations of
its curvature plot. If the curvature plot changes smoothly, the curve can be
considered fair. Inection points occur when curvature plot crosses the curve
(sign change), at regions produce zero curvature value, bulging tendencies produce
locally increased and attening tendencies produce locally reduced curvature values.
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2111
The optimization-based fairing procedure is applied to a typical ship section curve
shown in Fig. 2a. The optimization variables are the dening control points of the
B-spline representing the initial curve. The integral of the squared curvature
representing the strain energy of the curve is accepted as the fairness measure to be
minimized. The control points at which the B-spline curve has to be faired are
automatically selected by this fairness criterion. In order to preserve the general
shape characteristics, the sectional area of the curve is not allowed to change more
than 70.1%. Thus, the faired curve remains close to the original initial curve being
faired. The initial and the resulting curves are displayed along with their curvature
plots in Fig. 2.
The initial curve on the left has many sharp changes in direction, although it is
very hard to detect these unfair spots on the curve by only observing the curve shape.
However, the curvature plot is so sensitive that these unfair spots can easily be
detected. The curvature distribution of the initial curve is very uneven which is
wiggling back and forth indicating unnecessary inections on the curve. Therefore
this curve cannot be considered as a fair curve. After applying the fairing procedure
to the initial curve, the curve on the right is generated which has a much smoother
curvature plot although it deviates in shape very little. The minimum deviation from
the original curve is evidenced by the subtle difference between sectional area values
where the sectional area of the initial curve is 201.88 m
and the optimized curves is
201.91 m
. All unnecessary inection points have disappeared and all the curvature
rays point to the expected direction. The change in fairness measure values with
respect to number of iterations can be seen in Fig. 3. CN denotes closeness
(b) (a)
Fig. 2. Typical curve fairing problem: (a) initial curve and (b) fairing-optimized curve.
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2112
requirement which is 0.1%. In the following section an extension for this curve
fairing method is presented.
4. Fairing of ship hull forms
In this section typical examples for the optimization-based ship hull form fairing
procedure are presented. The rst example is a benchmark test performed on a
mathematical hull form (Wigley, 1934). This hull form is deliberately distorted to
create an initial hull form with poor fairing characteristics, as shown in Fig. 4a. The
initial control points are randomly distorted where the maximum disturbance at each
control point is limited to 1%.
The character of the hull surface geometry is displayed by using colour-encoded
curvature plots. These plots illustrate the variation of curvature over the three-
dimensional surface of the hull and gives information about the surface more clearly.
Blue regions are regions where the mean curvature is negative with a shading
towards dark blue for high values of curvature. Red regions represent where the
mean curvature is positive, again with high mean curvature values shading towards
dark red. Green regions are regions where the mean curvature is approximately zero.
These curvature plots, which shows the average curvature at each point, help to
identify areas needing modication. The colour is not as important as the pattern
that the colour creates. Smooth transition between colours is the main requirement
for a fair surface.
The optimization variables of the problem are the control points of a B-spline
surface, which are obtained by a B-spline tting procedure (Rogers and Adams,
1989). The fairness functional is formulated at each surface point, and integrated
over the entire surface to get a single numerical value, which describes the relative
fairness quality of the hull form. The search for desirable shape continues until the
form, which minimizes the fairness measure of merit while satisfying the geometric
0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800
No of iterations

Fig. 3. Change in objective function with increasing iterations.
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2113
Fig. 4. Application of the fairing process to the distorted mathematical hull form.
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2114
constraints specied for this case, is achieved. Various formulations can be obtained
by changing the type and number of geometric constraints. For example, the offsets
of the hull form are allowed to change 0.1%, 1% and 5% in Figs. 4(b)(d),
respectively. The Wigley surfaces generated by this optimization based fairing
method have curvature plots which change gradually according to the movement
of the sections. This shows the effectiveness of the approach for controlling
the curvature distribution of the surface. As the closeness requirement is relaxed
fairer hull forms are obtained. This point can be proved both visually and
numerically. By observing the curvature plots and the body sections of the Wigley
hulls generated by the optimization algorithm, it is obvious that the hull form
displayed in Fig. 4d has the fairest surface. Its curvature plot is much more evenly
distributed than the other hull forms. It also has the lowest objective function
value which is the main indicator of fairness. The change of objective function values
with respect to number of iterations for the three Wigley form cases can be seen from
Fig. 5.
A trawler hull form is taken as a second test case. The original hull form is
developed by using several hull form parameters which satisfy the basic techno-
economical performance requirements. Fairness was not a major design objective at
the concept design stage and hence the parent form must be faired for further
performance analysis. The fairing of the parent hull form is achieved by applying the
nonlinear direct search-based fairing procedure. Colour-encoded curvature plots of
the parent and the faired hull forms are illustrated in Fig. 6. The comparison of the
curvature plots of the two forms shows a signicant improvement in the curvature
variation of the faired form. Also, the overall hull form characteristics of the parent
form have been retained by constraining the offsets of the original hull to change not
more than 1%. Hull body lines of the parent and fairing-optimized forms can be seen
from Fig. 7. Dotted lines represent the sections of the parent form, whereas the solid
lines represent the sections of the faired trawler form.
Fig. 5. Change in objective function with increasing iterations.
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2115
These hull form applications indicate that, provided that the designer species the
design objectives and constraints clearly, this optimization based fairing methodol-
ogy signicantly improves the curvature variation of the hull forms while retaining
the overall hull form design characteristics.
5. Concluding remarks
This paper attempts to develop a practical numerical fairing procedure that can be
used in the early stages of the ship hull form design in order to improve the fairing
Fig. 6. Application of the fairing process to a trawler hull form: (a) parent form and (b) faired form.
Fig. 7. Comparison of body forms.
E. Sarioz / Ocean Engineering 33 (2006) 21052118 2116
quality of an initial hull form to achieve sufcient fairness for advanced performance
analysis. This procedure is based on a nonlinear direct search procedure where the
objective function to be minimized is described as a function of the curvature
properties. In order not to deviate from the initial design certain geometric
constraints may be employed. The procedure is applied to a two-dimensional curve
and typical ship hull forms. The control points of the B-spline surface is changed
such that the thin plate energy of the surface is minimized. The examples through
colour-coded curvature plots show that this approach can produce better modied
surfaces. Hence the results indicate that the optimization-based fairing could be used
as a practical tool in the early stages of ship hull form design.
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