Towards Universal Parameterization: Using Variational Autoencoders to Parameterize Airfoils

K. Swannet*, Carmine Varriale, Nguyen Anh Khoa Doan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

26 Downloads (Pure)


A design can only be as good as its mathematical representation. In engineering design optimization, the chosen method of parameterization can have significant impact on the outcomes. This paper introduces a novel methodology for airfoil design parameterization utilizing variational autoencoders (VAEs), a class of neural networks known for their proficiency in reducing dimensionality. However, a significant challenge with VAEs is the interpretability of the encoded latent space. This work aims to address this issue by creating a network with an interpretable latent space, yielding parameters that are understandable to humans. The effectiveness of this approach is evaluated using the comprehensive UIUC airfoil database, which offers a diverse range of airfoil shapes for analysis. We show that a VAE can successfully extract key features of airfoil geometries and parameterize them using six parameters, which show a clear correlation with airfoil properties in a way that remains understandable by the designer. Additionally, it smoothly interpolates the data points, allowing the generation of new airfoils and thus offering a practical and interpretable airfoil parameterization.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the AIAA SCITECH 2024 Forum
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA)
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-62410-711-5
Publication statusPublished - 2024
EventAIAA SCITECH 2024 Forum - Orlando, United States
Duration: 8 Jan 202412 Jan 2024


ConferenceAIAA SCITECH 2024 Forum
Country/TerritoryUnited States


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards Universal Parameterization: Using Variational Autoencoders to Parameterize Airfoils'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this