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Engineering with Computers

, Volume 16, Issue 3–4, pp 162–177 | Cite as

Function in Device Representation

  • B. Chandrasekaran
  • John R. Josephson
Article

Abstract

We explore the meanings of the terms ‘structure’, ‘behaviour’, and, especially, ‘function’ in engineering practice. Computers provide great assistance in calculation tasks in engineering practice, but they also have great potential for helping with reasoning tasks. However, realising this vision requires precision in representing engineering knowledge, in which the terms mentioned above play a central role. We start with a simple ontology for representing objects and causal interactions between objects. Using this ontology, we investigate a range of meanings for the terms of interest. Specifically, we distinguish between function as effect on the environment, and a device-centred view of device function. In the former view, function is seen as an intended or desired role that an artifact plays in its environment. We identify an important concept called mode of deployment that is often left implicit, but whose explicit representation is necessary for correct and complete reasoning. We discuss the task of design and design verification in this framework. We end with a discussion that relates needs in the world to functions of artifacts created to satisfy the needs.

Keywords:Causal reasoning; Compositional modeling; Device ontology; Device simulation; Functional reasoning; Functional representation 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Chandrasekaran
    • 1
  • John R. Josephson
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for AI Research, Department of Computer & Information Science, The Ohio State University, Colubus, OH, USAUSA

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