Nonlinear finite element model updating for damage identification of civil structures using batch Bayesian estimation.

Hamed Ebrahimian, Rodrigo Astroza, Joel P. Conte, Raymond A. de Callafon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


This paper presents a framework for structural health monitoring (SHM) and damage identification of civil structures. This framework integrates advanced mechanics-based nonlinear finite element (FE) modeling and analysis techniques with a batch Bayesian estimation approach to estimate time-invariant model parameters used in the FE model of the structure of interest. The framework uses input excitation and dynamic response of the structure and updates a nonlinear FE model of the structure to minimize the discrepancies between predicted and measured response time histories. The updated FE model can then be interrogated to detect, localize, classify, and quantify the state of damage and predict the remaining useful life of the structure. As opposed to recursive estimation methods, in the batch Bayesian estimation approach, the entire time history of the input excitation and output response of the structure are used as a batch of data to estimate the FE model parameters through a number of iterations. In the case of non-informative prior, the batch Bayesian method leads to an extended maximum likelihood (ML) estimation method to estimate jointly time-invariant model parameters and the measurement noise amplitude. The extended ML estimation problem is solved efficiently using a gradient-based interior-point optimization algorithm. Gradient-based optimization algorithms require the FE response sensitivities with respect to the model parameters to be identified. The FE response sensitivities are computed accurately and efficiently using the direct differentiation method (DDM). The estimation uncertainties are evaluated based on the Cramer–Rao lower bound (CRLB) theorem by computing the exact Fisher Information matrix using the FE response sensitivities with respect to the model parameters. The accuracy of the proposed uncertainty quantification approach is verified using a sampling approach based on the unscented transformation. Two validation studies, based on realistic structural FE models of a bridge pier and a moment resisting steel frame, are performed to validate the performance and accuracy of the presented nonlinear FE model updating approach and demonstrate its application to SHM. These validation studies show the excellent performance of the proposed framework for SHM and damage identification even in the presence of high measurement noise and/or way-out initial estimates of the model parameters. Furthermore, the detrimental effects of the input measurement noise on the performance of the proposed framework are illustrated and quantified through one of the validation studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-222
Number of pages29
JournalMechanical Systems and Signal Processing
Volume84, Part B
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bayesian inference
  • Gradient-based optimization
  • Model updating
  • Nonlinear finite element model
  • Nonlinear system identification
  • Uncertainty quantification


Dive into the research topics of 'Nonlinear finite element model updating for damage identification of civil structures using batch Bayesian estimation.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this