Motivating the Notion of Generic Design within Information-Processing Theory: The Design Problem Space

  • Vinod Goel
  • Peter Pirolli


The notion of generic design, although it has been around for 25 years, is not often articulated; such is especially true within Newell and Simon's (1972) information-processing theory (IPT) framework. Design is merely lumped in with other forms of problem-solving activity. Intuitively, one feels there should be a level of description of the phenomenon that refines this broad classification by further distinguishing between design and nondesign problem solving. However, IPT does not facilitate such problem classification. This article makes a preliminary attempt to differentiate design problem solving from nondesign problem solving by identifying major invariants in the design problem space.