We have examined the feasibility of using massively-parallel and vector-processing supercomputers to solve large-scale optimization problems for human movement. Specifically, we compared the computational expense of determining the optimal controls for the single support phase of gait using a conventional serial machine (SGI Iris 4D25), a MIMD parallel machine (Intel iPSC/860), and a parallel-vector-processing machine (Cray Y-MP 8/864). With the human body modeled as a 14 degree-of-freedom linkage actuated by 46 musculotendinous units, computation of the optimal controls for gait could take up to 3 months of CPU time on the Iris. Both the Cray and the Intel are able to reduce this time to practical levels. The optimal solution for gait can be found with about 77 hours of CPU on the Cray and with about 88 hours of CPU on the Intel. Although the overall speeds of the Cray and the Intel were found to be similar, the unique capabilities of each machine are better suited to different portions of the computational algorithm used. The Intel was best suited to computing the derivatives of the performance criterion and the constraints whereas the Cray was best suited to parameter optimization of the controls. These results suggest that the ideal computer architecture for solving very large-scale optimal control problems is a hybrid system in which a vector-processing machine is integrated into the communication network of a MIMD parallel machine.

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