Integrated Computational Synthesis: A Design Perspective

William H. Wood and Clive L. Dym

Design couples synthesis and analysis in iterative cycles, alternatively generating solutions and evaluating their validity. The accuracy and depth of evaluation has increased markedly because of the availability of powerful simulation tools and the development of domain-specific knowledge bases. Efforts to extend the state of the art in evaluation have unfortunately been carried out in stovepipe fashion, depending on domain-specific views both of the artifact and of what constitutes "good" design. Little regard has been paid to how synthesis and analysis might be combined to form an integrated design environment. This paper presents an overview of the progress made in representing design artifacts and processes. It outlines how much of that progress has been supported by a focus on how people do design and on the role that knowledge acquisition has played in building some of the more successful design systems that replicate design tasks done by industrial designers operating in their own domains. The paper also reviews the limited progress made on integration at the representation level, suggesting two paths by which the power of computational synthesis can be brought to an integrated design process.

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