Underlying Problem

While the Aqualibrium competition is simple to undestand and fun to do, the underlying problem is highly complex: the three small reservoirs can be placed in more than 3 000 combinations and for each of those combinations:

24

Pipe lines

3

Posible diameters (0, small , big)

280 Billion

Posible configurations
Conceptually, the Aqualibrium problem is the same as finding the optimal combination of pipe diameters in the design of a water distribution system. This is an exceptionally hard problem to solve due to the large number of possible solutions, non-linear hydraulic behaviour and discreteness of the avaliable pipe diameters. The problem cannot be solved using classical mathematical optimization techniques, and has been benchmark challenge in the development of the new heuristic optimization techniques such as genetic algorithms and antcoloy optimization.

The competition presents an excellent reference point to discuss the importance of preserving natural water resources and the need to use water sparingly, as well as the application of physics and mathematics to a real-life engineering problem.

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