Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 351–373 | Cite as

Steepest-first exploration with learning-based path evaluation: uncovering the design strategy of parameter analysis with C–K theory

  • Ehud KrollEmail author
  • Pascal Le Masson
  • Benoit Weil
Original Paper


The parameter analysis method of conceptual design is studied in this paper with the help of C–K theory. Each of the fundamental design activities—idea generation, implementation of the idea as hardware and evaluation—is explained and defined as a specific sequence of C–K operators. A case study of designing airborne decelerators is used to demonstrate the modeling of the parameter analysis process in C–K terms. The theory is used to explain how recovery from an initial fixation took place, leading to a breakthrough in the design process. It is shown that the innovative power of parameter analysis is based on C-space “de-partitioning” and that the efficient strategy exhibited by parameter analysis can be interpreted as steepest-first, controlled by an evaluation function of the design path. This logic is explained as generalization of branch-and-bound algorithms by a learning-based, dynamically evolving evaluation function and exploration of a state space that keeps changing during the actual process of designing.


Design theory Conceptual design C–K theory Parameter analysis 



The first author is grateful to the chair of “Design Theory and Methods for Innovation” at Mines ParisTech for hosting him for furthering this research. This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation under Grant No. 546/12.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Aerospace EngineeringTechnion – Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.CGS - Centre de gestion scientifique (Management Science Lab)MINES ParisTech, PSL Research UniversityParisFrance

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