Narratives: Composing and Controlling Persistent Assistants to Communicate, Integrate, and Automate Multidisciplinary Design and Analysis

John Haymaker, Ben Suter, John Kunz, and Martin Fischer

We discuss an approach in which engineers formally and iteratively construct information representations, called Perspectives, from information in other Perspectives using personal computational assistants, called Perspectors. Engineers can select from predefined, reusable, Perspectors, or program new Perspectors, and compose them into directed acyclic graph structures, called Narratives, to quickly and accurately construct useful dependent Perspectives. The approach also formalizes simple management processes with which professionals can control the integration of their Perspectives with respect to the Perspectives on which they depend. The result is an evolving, distributed, multi-disciplinary and integrated project model. We describe one conceptual Narrative that formalizes a multidisciplinary cost-benefit analysis to help designers choose amongst sustainable strategies. We describe one implemented Narrative that automatically generates a metal decking contractor’s connection details that are needed to connect concrete slabs that are described in an architect’s model and steel beams that are described in a steel detailers model. We discuss how these Narratives could have enabled engineers to better design, communicate, integrate, and automate their design processes than is possible on a recent state-of-the-art AEC projects. Narratives are intended to enable engineers from multiple disciplines to engage in novel, automated, and integrated design and analysis by easily yet formally constructing and integrating Perspectives from other Perspectives.

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