Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 129–148

Development and characterisation of error functions in design

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00163-007-0034-x

Cite this article as:
Goh, Y.M., McMahon, C.A. & Booker, J.D. Res Eng Design (2007) 18: 129. doi:10.1007/s00163-007-0034-x


As simulation is increasingly used in product development, there is a need to better characterise the errors inherent in simulation techniques by comparing such techniques with evidence from experiment, test and in-service. This is necessary to allow judgement of the adequacy of simulations in place of physical tests and to identify situations where further data collection and experimentation need to be expended. This paper discusses a framework for uncertainty characterisation based on the management of design knowledge leading to the development and characterisation of error functions. A classification is devised in the framework to identify the most appropriate method for the representation of error, including probability theory, interval analysis and Fuzzy set theory. The development is demonstrated with two case studies to justify rationale of the framework. Such formal knowledge management of design simulation processes can facilitate utilisation of cumulated design knowledge as companies migrate from testing to simulation-based design.


Uncertainty characterisationError functionsSimulation-based designKnowledge managementVariant design



Computer-aided engineering


Computational fluids dynamics


Integrated product development


Finite element analysis


Factor of safety


Probability distribution function


Probability of failure

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of BristolBristolUK