Document Type

Book Chapter


Engineering (HMC)

Publication Date



Design knowledge incorporates knowledge and information about designed objects and their attributes, as well as about methods and means for undertaking the design process. Such design knowledge is articulated in several different representations or languages. This paper presents a typology of the languages of engineering design, emphasizing the representation of designed objects and the articulation and representation of the cognitive processes of design. Design languages include verbal or textual statements, drawings and graphics, formulas, and numbers. Still other design languages follow from computational styles. The languages of design and their computer-based implementations are empirical in origin, since observation reveals that these languages are derived not from an overarching theory, but from our experience in trying to understand what we do when we: talk about designed objects, articulate design processes, and teach computers how to do these things as well.

Next to presenting a typology of the languages of engineering design, and discussing the role of these languages in design activity, the paper also discusses the possibility of automating design activity through the design and manufacture of expert systems for product design. We will be looking at one of the most advanced systems of this sort, the PRIDE system, and use our study of PRIDE to discuss the possibilities and limits of automating design through the use of expert systems.

Rights Information

© 2001 JAI Press