For the performance measure approach (PMA) of RBDO, a transformation between the input random variables and the standard normal random variables is necessary to carry out the inverse reliability analysis. For reliability analysis, Rosenblatt and Nataf transformations are commonly used. In many industrial RBDO problems, the input random variables are correlated. However, often only limited information such as the marginal distribution and covariance could be practically obtained, and the input joint probability distribution function (PDF) is very difficult to obtain. Thus, in literature, most RBDO methods assume all input random variables are independent. However, in this paper, it is found that the RBDO results can be significantly different when the input variables are correlated. Thus, various transformation methods are investigated for development of a RBDO method for problems with correlated input variables. It is found that Rosenblatt transformation is impractical for problems with correlated input variables due to difficulty of constructing a joint PDF from the marginal distributions and covariance. On the other hand, Nataf transformation can construct the joint CDF using the marginal distributions and covariance, and thus applicable to problems with correlated random input variables. The joint CDF is Nataf model, which is called a Gaussian copula in the copula family. Since the Gaussian copula can describe a wide range of the correlation coefficient, Nataf transformation can be widely used for various types of correlated input variables. In this paper, Nataf transformation is used to develop a RBDO method for design problems with correlated random input variables. Numerical examples are used to demonstrate the proposed method. Also, it is shown that the correlated random input variables significantly affect the RBDO results.

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