Design-by-analogy: experimental evaluation of a functional analogy search methodology for concept generation improvement
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- Fu, K., Murphy, J., Yang, M. et al. Res Eng Design (2015) 26: 77. doi:10.1007/s00163-014-0186-4
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.