Prediction of bridge pier scour depth is essential for safe and economical bridge design. Keeping in mind the complex nature of bridge scour phenomenon, there is a need to properly address the methods and techniques used to predict bridge pier scour. Up to the present, extensive research has been carried out for pier scour depth prediction. Different modeling techniques have been applied to achieve better prediction. This paper presents a new soft computing technique called gene-expression programming (GEP) for pier scour depth prediction using laboratory data. A functional relationship has been established using GEP and its performance is compared with other artificial intelligence (AI)-based techniques such as artificial neural networks (ANNs) and conventional regression-based techniques. Laboratory data containing 529 datasets was divided into calibration and validation sets. The performance of GEP was found to be highly satisfactory and encouraging when compared to regression equations but was slightly inferior to ANN. This slightly inferior performance of GEP compared to ANN is offset by its capability to provide compact and explicit mathematical expression for bridge scour. This advantage of GEP over ANN is the main motivation for this work. The resulting GEP models will add to the existing literature of AI-based inductive models for bridge scour modeling.

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