Constraint-Aided Conceptual DesignBarry O'Sullivan
Department of Computer Science
University College Cork, Ireland
The thesis defended in this dissertation is that constraint processing offers a sufficiently rich basis for supporting the human designer during engineering conceptual design. A new systematic theory of the conceptual phase of engineering design is presented upon which a constraint-based approach to supporting the human designer is developed. This approach is based upon an expressive and general technique for modelling the design knowledge which a designer can exploit during a design project, the life-cycle environment which the final product faces, the design specification which defines the set of requirements which the product must satisfy and the structure of the various schemes that are developed by the designer. A computational reasoning environment based on the notion of constraint filtering is proposed which forms the basis of an interactive design support tool which can be used to assist a human designer working in the conceptual phase of design. Using this interactive design support tool the designer can be assisted in developing constraint-based models of proposed schemes which satisfy the various constraints that are imposed on the design.
The primary contribution of this research is that it provides a complete approach to supporting the human designer during the conceptual phase of engineering design. The approach presented here not only addresses the issue of modelling and reasoning about the design of products from an abstract set of requirements, but it also demonstrates how life-cycle knowledge can be incorporated into the conceptual design of a product and how alternative schemes can be compared.
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This dissertation has been published as a book by Professional Engineering Publishing as part of their Engineering Research Series.
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