Document Type



Engineering (HMC)

Publication Date



Design couples synthesis and analysis in iterative cycles, alternatively generating solutions, and evaluating their validity. The accuracy and depth of evaluation has increased markedly because of the availability of powerful simulation tools and the development of domain-specific knowledge bases. Efforts to extend the state of the art in evaluation have unfortunately been carried out in stovepipe fashion, depending on domain-specific views both of function and of what constitutes “good” design. Although synthesis as practiced by humans is an intentional process that centers on the notion of function, computational synthesis often eschews such intention for sheer permutation. Rather than combining synthesis and analysis to form an integrated design environment, current methods focus on comprehensive search for solutions within highly circumscribed subdomains of design. This paper presents an overview of the progress made in representing design function across abstraction levels proven useful to human designers. Through an example application in the domain of mechatronics, these representations are integrated across domains and throughout the design process.

Rights Information

© 2005 Cambridge University Press