Milestones in the 150-Year History of Topology Optimization: A Review

  • János Lógó Budapest University of Technology and Economics
  • Hussein Ismail Budapest University of Technology and Economics


Structural optimization is one of the most intensively investigated research areas in engineering. Recently, topology optimization has become the most popular engineering subfield. The starting date of structural optimization cannot be precisely determined. Michell’s optimization paper, published in 1904, is considered as the first publication in this subfield. However, his paper starts with a statement that his work is a generalization
of Maxwell’s idea presented in the paper published in 1870.
The authors of this review paper consider that this date can be accepted as the starting date of topology optimization. This paper is an overview of subjectively selected state-of-art achievements in topology optimization during its history of 150 years. The selection of the achievements is a rather difficult task because, in the early period of the history of topology optimization, a lot of meetings were classified and the results were not available for the public. The optimization community has almost no knowledge about the publications in topology optimization in the 1950s. Around that time, one can find some information on workshops and meetings connected to the Cambridge University or Oxford University with researchers such as Foulkes, Cox, Hemp, and Shield, who published significant results and these communications are generally not known for the reason mentioned above. After the 1970s, this situation has changed and there were more possibilities to find publications due to the changes and thanks to digitalization. As indicated earlier here subjectively selected works are overviewed from the 150-year history focusing on the first hundred twenty years.


topology optimization, optimal layout, optimality criteria method, level set method, heuristic optimal design,


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Sep 30, 2020
How to Cite
LÓGÓ, János; ISMAIL, Hussein. Milestones in the 150-Year History of Topology Optimization: A Review. Computer Assisted Methods in Engineering and Science, [S.l.], v. 27, n. 2–3, p. 97–132, sep. 2020. ISSN 2299-3649. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 23 jan. 2022. doi:
Engineering Optimization (2nd Edition)