Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 200–223 | Cite as

Towards an ontology of generic engineering design activities

  • Siang Kok SimEmail author
  • Alex H. B. Duffy
Original Paper


This paper argues that there is no shared understanding (i.e. an ontology) of the design activities that designers perform in the design process. Hence the purpose of the paper was directed towards identifying and classifying a generic set of design activities from published literature into what are referred to as design definition activities, design evaluation activities and design management activities. In an attempt to achieve a shared understanding of these activities, a set of consistent and coherent definitions of these activities are deliberated and presented. A knowledge level representation based on Newell’s Knowledge Level hypothesis governed by the Principle of Rationality is used to represent a design activity that is motivated by a design goal of that activity through which input knowledge is changed into output knowledge by the design agent’s knowledge. The ontological completeness, clarity and coherence of activities are evaluated through a protocol analysis and the design process in the domain of electronic design (in particular System-on-a-Chip designs (SoC)).


Ontology Design activities Definition activities Evaluation activities Management activities Knowledge change 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Mechanical and Production EngineeringNanyang Technological UniversitySingapore Republic of Singapore
  2. 2.CAD Centre, Deptartment of Design Manufacture and Engineering ManagementUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowUK

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