Facilitating design-by-analogy: Development of a complete functional vocabulary and functional vector approach to analogical search

Kevin Otto, J. Murphy, K. Fu, Maria Yang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Design-by-analogy is an effective approach to innovative concept generation, but can be elusive at times due to the fact that few methods and tools exist to assist designers in systematically seeking and identifying analogies from general data sources, databases, or repositories, such as patent databases. A new method for extracting analogies from data sources has been developed to provide this capability. Building on past research, we utilize a functional vector space model to quantify analogous similarity between a design problem and the data source of potential analogies. We quantitatively evaluate the functional similarity between represented design problems and, in this case, patent descriptions of products. We develop a complete functional vocabulary to map the patent database to applicable functionally critical terms, using document parsing algorithms to reduce text descriptions of the data sources down to the key functions, and applying Zipf's law on word count order reduction to reduce the words within the documents. The reduction of a document (in this case a patent) into functional analogous words enables the matching to novel ideas that are functionally similar, which can be customized in various ways. This approach thereby provides relevant sources of design-by-analogy inspiration. Although our implementation of the technique focuses on functional descriptions of patents and the mapping of these functions to those of the design problem, resulting in a set of analogies, we believe that this technique is applicable to other analogy data sources as well. As a verification of the approach, an original design problem for an automated window washer illustrates the distance range of analogical solutions that can be extracted, extending from very near-field, literal solutions to far-field cross-domain analogies. Finally, a comparison with a current patent search tool is performed to draw a contrast to the status quo and evaluate the effectiveness of this work.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication40th Design Automation Conference
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Number of pages11
Volume2A
ISBN (Print)9780791846315
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference - Buffalo, United States
Duration: 17 Aug 201420 Aug 2014

Conference

ConferenceASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
Abbreviated titleIDETC/CIE
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBuffalo
Period17/08/201420/08/2014

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