We consider the problem of selecting among different physics-based computational models of varying, and oftentimes not assessed, fidelity for evaluating the objective and constraint functions in numerical design optimization. Typically, higher-fidelity models are associated with higher computational cost. Therefore, it is desirable to employ them only when necessary. We introduce a relative adequacy framework that aims at determining whether lower-fidelity models (that are typically associated with lower computational cost) can be used in certain areas of the design space as the latter is being explored during the optimization process. The proposed approach is implemented in the mesh adaptive direct search derivative-free optimization algorithm using a trust-region management framework. We demonstrate the link between feasibility and fidelity and the key features of the proposed approach using the design example of a cantilever flexible beam subject to high accelerations.

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