On Knowledge Level Theories of Design Process

  • Tim Smithers


AI in Design research is a mixture of scientific and engineering activities, with the emphasis on the latter. So far, almost all of this work has been carried out in the absence of usable theories of design process. Yet, as in other areas of technological development and application, such theoretical understanding could make a big difference to the effectiveness and applicability of the techniques and systems developed. This paper first briefly reviews the nature of theories in science, and the nature of the design process with respect to this. It then reviews some important problems with attempts to understand design in terms of cognition in AI in Design research. It suggests that what we need instead are Knowledge Level theories of design process. It also identifies the need for greater care and precision in the use of the terms theory, model, method, and description in the field. It ends by identifying some important benefits the development, testing, and use of Knowledge Level theories of design process could have on the field of AI in Design as a whole.


Design Process Scientific Theory Knowledge System Knowledge Level Theoretical Understanding 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Akman, V., ten Hagen, P. J. W., and Tomiyama, T.: 1990, A fundamental and theoretical framework for an intelligent CAD System, Computer-Aided Design, 22(6), 368–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akin, O.: 1978, How do architects design, in J-C. Latombe (ed.), Artificial Intelligence and Pattern Recognition in Computer Aided Design, North-Holland, pp. 65–98.Google Scholar
  3. Akin, O.: 1986, Psychology of Architectural Design, Pion Limited, London.Google Scholar
  4. Akin, O.: 1988, Expertise of the architect, in M. D. Rychener (ed.), Expert Systems for Engineering Design, Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. Akkermans, J. M., van Harmelen, F., Guss Schreiber, A. T., Wielinga, B. J.: 1993, A formalization of knowledge-kevel models for knowledge acquisition, International Journal of Intelligent Systems, 8,169–208.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  6. Akkermans, J. M, van de Velde, W., Wielinga, B. J., and Schreiber, A. T.: 1994, Rational: principles underlying expertise modelling, in B. J. Wielinga (ed.), Expertise Model Definition Document, Chapter 1, KAD-II project document KADS-II/M2/UvA/026/5.0, pp. 5–9.Google Scholar
  7. Akkermans, J. M.: 1995, In personal discussion, Amsterdam, January.Google Scholar
  8. Alberts, L. K.: 1994, YMIR: a sharable ontology for formal representation of engineering-design knowledge, in J. S. Gero and E. Tyugu (eds), Formal Design Methods for CAD, Elsevier, pp. 3–32.Google Scholar
  9. Alberts, L. K. and Dikker, F.: 1994. Integrating standards and synthesis knowledge using the YMIR ontology, in J. S. Gero and F. Sudweeks (eds), Artificial Intelligence in Design’ 94, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 517–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Alexander, C.: 1971. Notes on the Synthesis of Form, Harvard University Press, paperback edition, first published in 1964.Google Scholar
  11. Archea, J.: 1987. Puzzle-making: what architects do when no one is looking, in Kalay, Y. E. (ed.), Principle of Computer-Aided Design: Computability of Design, John Wiley and Sons, pp. 37–52.Google Scholar
  12. Arciszewski, T. and Michalski, R. S.: 1994. Inferential design theory: a conceptual outline, in J. S. Gero and F. Sudweeks (eds), Artificial Intelligence in Design’ 94, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 295–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bannon, L. J.: 1995. The politics of design: representing work, in (Suchman, 1995a), pp. 66–68.Google Scholar
  14. Bazjanac, V.: 1974. Architectural design theory: models of the design process, in Spillers, W. R. (ed), Basic Questions of Design Theory, North-Holland, pp. 2–19.Google Scholar
  15. Benjammins, R. and Jansweijer, W.: 1994. Towards a competence theory of diagnosis, IEEE Expert, 9(5), pp. 43–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bernaras,.: 1994. Problem-oriented and task-oriented models of design in the CommonKADS framework, in J. S. Gero and F. Sudweeks (eds), Artificial Intelligence in Design’ 94, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 499–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Blessing, L. T. M.: 1994. A Process-Based approach to Computer-Supported Engineering Design, PhD. Thesis, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  18. Boden, M. A.: 1962. The paradox of explanation, Proc. Aristotelian Soc., n.s., pp. 159–178. Reprinted in Boden M. A., 1981, Minds and Mechanisms, Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Brazier, F. M. T., van Langen, P. H. G., Ruttkay, Zs., and Treur, J.: 1994. On formal specification of design tasks, in J. S. Gero and F. Sudweeks (eds), Artificial Intelligence in Design’ 94, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 535–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Brazier, F. M. T., van Langen, P. H. G., and Treur, J.: 1995, A logical theory of design, in J. S. Gero and F. Sudweeks (eds), Advances in Formal Design Methods for CAD, Preprints of the IFIP WG 5.2 Workshop on Formal Design Methods for Computer-Aided Design, Key Centre of Design Computing, University of Sydney, pp. 247–271.Google Scholar
  21. Breuker, J. A. and Wielinga, B. J.: 1988, Models of expertise in knowledge acquisition, in P. Guida and G. Tasso (eds), Topics in Expert Systems Design: Methodologies and Tools, North-Holland, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  22. Breuker, J. A. and Wielinga, B. J.: 1989, Model-driven knowledge acquisition, in P. Guida and G. Tasso (eds), Topics in the Design of Expert Systems, North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp. 265–296.Google Scholar
  23. Breuker, J. A. and van de Velde, W.: 1994, The CommmonKADS Library of Expertise Modeling, IOS Press.Google Scholar
  24. Bylander, T. and Chandrasekaran, B.: 1988, Generic tasks in knowledge-based reasoning: The right level of abstraction for knowledge acquisition, in B. Gaines and J. Boose (eds), Knowledge Acquisition for Knowledge Based Systems, Academic Press.Google Scholar
  25. Churchland, P. M.: 1988, On the ontological status of intentional states: Nailing folk psychology to its perch, Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 11(3), 507–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Churchland, P. M.: 1989, A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science, The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Cross, N., Naughton, J., and Walker, D.: 1981, Design method and scientific method, Design Studies, 2(4), 195–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Cross, N. (ed.): 1984, Developments in Design Methodology, John Wiley.Google Scholar
  29. Cross, N.: 1989, Engineering Design Methods, John Wiley.Google Scholar
  30. Darke, J.: 1979, The primary generator and the design process, Design Studies, 1(1), 36–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Dasgupta, S.: 1991, Design Theory and Computer Science, Processes and Methodology of Computer Systems Design, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Dickinson, H. W. and Jenkins, R: 1981, James Watt and the Steam Engine, Encore Editions. First published in 1927.Google Scholar
  33. Gero, J. S. (ed.): 1991, Artificial Intelligence in Design’ 91, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.Google Scholar
  34. Gero, J. S. (ed.): 1992. Artificial Intelligence in Design’ 92, Kluwer, Dordrecht.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  35. Gero, J. S.: 1994, Towards a model of exploration in computer-aided design, in J. S. Gero and E. Tyugu (eds), Formal Design Methods for CAD, Elsevier, pp. 315–336.Google Scholar
  36. Gero, J. S. and Maher, M. L.: 1990, Theoretical requirements for creative design by analogy, in P. A. Fitzhorn (ed.), Proceedings First International Workshop on Formal Methods in Engineering Design, Manufacturing, and Assembly, The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, January 15–17, 1990. Available from Department of Mechanical Engineering, Colorado State University.Google Scholar
  37. Gero, J. S. and Sudweeks, F. (eds): 1994, Artificial Intelligence in Design’ 94, Kluwer, Dordrecht.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  38. Hillier, W. and Leaman, A.: 1974, How is design possible, Journal of Architectural Research, 3, 4–11.Google Scholar
  39. Hillier, W. and Leaman, A.: 1976, Architecture as a discipline, Journal of Architectural Research, 5, 8–32.Google Scholar
  40. Hills, R. L.: 1989, Power from Steam, A History of the Stationary Steam Engine, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Holtzblatt, K. and Beyer, H. R. (eds): 1995, Requirements gathering, the human factor, Communications of the ACM, 38(5), 31–88.Google Scholar
  42. Hubka, V.: 1982. Principles of Engineering Design, Butterworth Scientific, translation by W. E. Eder.Google Scholar
  43. Hull, D. L.: 1988, Science as Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  44. Atlee Jackson, E.: 1995, No provable limits to “scientific knowledge”, Complexity, 1(2), 14–17.Google Scholar
  45. Jones, J. C.: 1991, Designing Designing, Architecture Design and Technology Press.Google Scholar
  46. Kyhn, S. and Muller, M. J. (eds): 1993, Participatory design, Communications of the ACM, 36(4), 25–103.Google Scholar
  47. Lawson, B.: 1990, How Designers Think, Academic Press.Google Scholar
  48. McDonnell, J. T.: 1994, Supporting Engineering Design Using Knowledge Based Systems Technology with a Case Study in Electricity Distribution Network Design, PhD Thesis, Department of Computer Science, Brunei University, England.Google Scholar
  49. Mitchell, W. J.: 1990, The Logic of Architecture, The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  50. Newell, A.: 1981, The knowledge level, AI Magazine, 1(2), 1–20. Also in Artificial Intelligence, 18(1), 87–127, 1982.Google Scholar
  51. Newell, A.: 1990, Unified Theories of Cognition, Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Newell, A., Shaw, J. C. and Simon, H. A.: 1958, Elements of a theory of human problem solving, Psychological Review, 65,151–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Newell, A. and Simon, H. A.: 1972, Human Problem Solving, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.Google Scholar
  54. Rowe, P. G.: 1987, Design Thinking, The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  55. Schön, D. A.: 1983, The Reflective Practitioner, How Professionals Think in Action, Basic Books.Google Scholar
  56. Schön, D. A.: 1985, The Design Studio, An Exploration of its Traditions and Potential, RIBA Publications.Google Scholar
  57. Schön, D. A.: 1987, Educating the Reflective Practitioner, Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  58. Schön, D. A.: 1992, Designing as a reflective conversation with the materials of a design situation, Knowledge Based Systems, 5(1), 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schön, D. A.: 1992, Kinds of seeing and their functions in Ddesigning, Design Studies, 13(2), 135–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schreiber, A. T., Wielinga, B. J., and Breuker, J. A. (eds): 1993, KADS: a principled approach to knowledge-based systems development, Knowledge-Based Systems Book Series, 11, Academic Press.Google Scholar
  61. Schreiber, A. T., Wielinga, B. J., de Hoog, R., Akkermans, J. M. and van de Velde, W.: 1994, Com-monKADS: A comprehensive methodology for KBS development, IEEE Expert, 9(6), 28–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schuler, d. (ed.): 1994, Social computing, Communications of the ACM, 37(1), 29–80. 126–127.Google Scholar
  63. Simon, H. A.: 1981, The Sciences of the Artificial, Second Edition, MIT Press. (First edition, 1969.)Google Scholar
  64. Smithers, T. and Troxell, W. O.: 1990, Design is intelligent behaviour, but what’s the formalism?, AI EDAM, 4(2), 89–98.Google Scholar
  65. Smithers, T.: 1992, Design as exploration: Puzzle-making and puzzle solving, Exploration-Based Models of Design and Search-Based Models of Design, Workshop Notes, AID’92, CMU, Pittsburgh, June.Google Scholar
  66. Smithers, T. (ed.): 1994, The Nature and Role of Theory in AI in Design Research, Workshop Notes, AID’94, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lasuanne, Switerzland, August. Available from the Faculty of Informatics, University of the Basque Country, San Sebastián, Spain.Google Scholar
  67. Smithers, T., Corne, D., and Ross, P.: 1994, On computing exploration and solving design Pproblems, in J. S. Gero and E. Tyugu (eds.), Formal Design Methods for CAD, Elsevier, pp. 293–313.Google Scholar
  68. Smithers, T.: 1995. AI in design needs knowledge level theories, in J. S. Gero and F. Sudweeks (eds), Proceedings Fourth Workshop on Research Directions for Artificial Intelligence in Design, Department of Architecture and Design Science, University of Sydney, pp. 73–79.Google Scholar
  69. Steels, L.: 1990, Components of expertise, AI Magazine, 11(2), 30–61.Google Scholar
  70. Stich, S.: 1986, From Folk Psychology to Cognitive Science, The Case Against Belief, A Bradford Book, The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  71. Suchman, L. A. (ed.): 1995, Representations of Work, Special Issue of Communications of the ACM, 38(9), 33–68.Google Scholar
  72. Suchman, L. A.: 1995, Making work visible, in L. A. Suchman (ed.), Communications of the ACM, 38(9), 56–64.Google Scholar
  73. Taguchi, G.: 1986, Introduction to Quality Engineering, Asian Productivity Organization, First Edition.Google Scholar
  74. Taguchi, G., Elsayed, E. A., and Hsiang, T. C.: 1989, Quality Engineering in Production Systems, McGraw-Hill Book Company, First Edition.Google Scholar
  75. Tomiyama, T.: 1994, From general design theory to knowledge-intensive engineering, AIEDAM, 8(4), 319–333.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Treur, J.: 1991, A logical framework for design processes, in P. J. W. ten Hagen and P. J. Veerkamp (eds), Intelligent CAD Systems III, Proceedings of the Third Eurographics Workshop on Intelligent CAD Systems, Springer-Verlag, pp. 3–20.Google Scholar
  77. van de Velde, W.: 1993, Issues in knowledge level modelling, in D. J-M. David, J-P. Krivine and R. Simmons (eds), Second Generation in Expert Systems, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 211–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. van Harmelen, F.: 1995, In personal discussion, Amsterdam, January.Google Scholar
  79. Wielinga, B. J. and Breuker, J. A.: 1987, Models of expertise, in B. du Boulay, D. Hogg and L. Steels (eds), Advances in Artificial Intelligence II, Elsevier Science, pp. 497–509.Google Scholar
  80. Wilkes, K.: 1989, Explanation-how not to miss the point, in A. Montefiore and D. Noble (eds), Goals, No Goals, and Own Goals, Unwin Hyman, London, pp. 194–210.Google Scholar
  81. Yoshikawa, H.: 1981, General design theory and a CAD system, in T. Sata and E. A. Warman (eds), Man-Machine Communication in CAD/CAM, North-Holland, pp. 35–58.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Smithers
    • 1
  1. 1.Informatika FakultateaEuskal Herriko UnibertsitateaDonostiaEspaina

Personalised recommendations