Comparison of two inverse analysis techniques for learning deep excavation response

Youssef M.A. Hashash, Séverine Levasseur, Abdolreza Osouli, Richard Finno, Yann Malecot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Performance observation is a necessary part of the design and construction process in geotechnical engineering. For deep urban excavations, empirical and numerical methods are used to predict potential deformations and their impacts on surrounding structures. Two inverse analysis approaches are described and compared for an excavation project in downtown Chicago. The first approach is a parameter optimization approach based on genetic algorithm (GA). GA is a stochastic global search technique for optimizing an objective function with linear or non-linear constraints. The second approach, self-learning simulations (SelfSim), is an inverse analysis technique that combines finite element method, continuously evolving material models, and field measurements. The optimization based on genetic algorithm approach identifies material properties of an existing soil model, and SelfSim approach extracts the underlying soil behavior unconstrained by a specific assumption on soil constitutive behavior. The two inverse analysis approaches capture well lateral wall deflections and maximum surface settlements. The GA optimization approach tends to overpredict surface settlements at some distance from the excavation as it is constrained by a specific form of the material constitutive model (i.e. hardening soil model); while the surface settlements computed using SelfSim approach match the observed ones due to its ability to learn small strain non-linearity of soil implied in the measured settlements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-333
Number of pages11
JournalComputers and Geotechnics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Excavation
  • Inverse analysis
  • Neural network material models
  • Optimization
  • Soil behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Computer Science Applications


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