Exploring the Application of Network Analytics in Characterizing a Conceptual Design Space

DS 94: Proceedings of the Design Society: 22nd International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED19)

Year: 2019
Editor: Wartzack, Sandro; Schleich, Benjamin; Gon
Author: Gyory, Joshua T.; Goucher-Lambert, Kosa; Kotovsky, Kenneth; Cagan, Jonathan
Series: ICED
Institution: Carnegie Mellon University
Section: ICT for design
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.1017/dsi.2019.201
ISSN: 2220-4342


The ability to effectively analyse design concepts is essential for making early stage design decisions. Human evaluations, the most common assessment method, describe individual design concepts on a variety of ideation metrics. However, this approach falls short in creating a holistic representation of the design space as a whole that informs the underlying relations between concepts. Motivated by this shortcoming, this work leverages network theory to visualize and characterize features of a conceptual design space. To illustrate the utility of network theory for these purposes, a network composed of a corpus of solutions to a design problem and their semantic similarity is derived, and its design properties (e.g., uniqueness and innovation potential) are studied. This network-based approach not only characterizes features of individual designs themselves, but also uncovers more nuanced properties of the design space through studying emerging clusters of concepts. Overall, this work expands on developing research in design, demonstrating the value in applying network analytics to a conceptual design space as an engineering support tool to aid design decision-making.

Keywords: Conceptual design, Evaluation, Design methods


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