Engineering benchmark problems with specific characteristics have been used to compare the performance and reliability of metaheuristic algorithms, and water distribution system design benchmarks are also widely used. However, only a few benchmark design problems have been considered in the research community. Due to the limited set of previous benchmarks, it is challenging to identify the algorithm with the best performance and the highest reliability among a group of algorithms. Therefore, in this study, a new water distribution system design benchmark problem generation method is proposed considering problem size and complexity modifications of a reference benchmark. The water distribution system design benchmark problems are used for performance and reliability comparison among several reported metaheuristic optimization algorithms. The optimal design results are able to quantify the performance and reliability of the compared algorithms which shows each metaheuristic algorithm has its own strengths and weaknesses. Finally, using the proposed method in this study, guidelines are derived for selecting an appropriate metaheuristic algorithm for water distribution system design.
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