Original Paper

International Journal on Interactive Design and Manufacturing (IJIDeM)

, 5:187

First online:

Modelling the evolution of uncertainty levels during design

  • David C. WynnAffiliated withEngineering Design Centre, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge Email author 
  • , Khadidja GrebiciAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, McGill University
  • , P. John ClarksonAffiliated withEngineering Design Centre, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge

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Design work involves uncertainty that arises from, and influences, the progressive development of solutions. This paper analyses the influences of evolving uncertainty levels on the design process. We focus on uncertainties associated with choosing the values of design parameters, and do not consider in detail the issues that arise when parameters must first be identified. Aspects of uncertainty and its evolution are discussed, and a new task-based model is introduced to describe process behaviour in terms of changing uncertainty levels. The model is applied to study two process configuration problems based on aircraft wing design: one using an analytical solution and one using Monte-Carlo simulation. The applications show that modelling uncertainty levels during design can help assess management policies, such as how many concepts should be considered during design and to what level of accuracy.


Uncertainty levels Design process model Discrete-event simulation