Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 77–95 | Cite as

Design-by-analogy: experimental evaluation of a functional analogy search methodology for concept generation improvement

  • Katherine Fu
  • Jeremy Murphy
  • Maria Yang
  • Kevin Otto
  • Dan Jensen
  • Kristin Wood
Original Paper


Design-by-analogy is a growing field of study and practice, due to its power to augment and extend traditional concept generation methods by expanding the set of generated ideas using similarity relationships from solutions to analogous problems. This paper presents the results of experimentally testing a new method for extracting functional analogies from general data sources, such as patent databases, to assist designers in systematically seeking and identifying analogies. In summary, the approach produces significantly improved results on the novelty of solutions generated and no significant change in the total quantity of solutions generated. Computationally, this design-by-analogy facilitation methodology uses a novel functional vector space representation to quantify the functional similarity between represented design problems and, in this case, patent descriptions of products. The mapping of the patents into the functional analogous words enables the generation of functionally relevant novel ideas that can be customized in various ways. Overall, this approach provides functionally relevant novel sources of design-by-analogy inspiration to designers and design teams.


Design-by-analogy Function-based analogy Design cognition 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Fu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeremy Murphy
    • 3
  • Maria Yang
    • 1
  • Kevin Otto
    • 2
  • Dan Jensen
    • 4
  • Kristin Wood
    • 2
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Engineering Product Development PillarSingapore University of Technology and DesignSingaporeRepublic of Singapore
  3. 3.Schlumberger LimitedSugarlandUSA
  4. 4.United States Air Force AcademyColorado SpringsUSA

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