An object-oriented representation for product and design processes

S. R. Gorti, A. Gupta, G. J. Kim, R. D. Sriram, A. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)


We report on the development of a knowledge representation model, which is based on the SHARED object model reported in Shared Workspaces for Computer-Aided Collaborative Engineering (Wong, A. and Sriram, D., Technical Report, IESL 93-06, Intelligent Engineering Systems Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, MIT, March, 1993) and Research in Engineering Design (Wong, A. and Sriram, D., SHARED: An Information Model for Cooperative Product Development, 1993, Fall, 21-39). Our current model is implemented as a layered scheme, that incorporates both an evolving artifact and its associated design process. To represent artifacts as they evolve, we define objects recursively without a pre-defined granularity on this recursive decomposition. This eliminates the need for translations between levels of abstraction in the design process. The SHARED model extends traditional OOP in three ways: (1) by allowing explicit relationship classes with inheritance hierarchies; (2) by permitting constraints to be associated with objects and relationships; and (3) by comparing 'similar' objects at three different levels (form, function and behavior). Five primitive objects define the design process: goal, plan, specification, decision and context. Goal objects achieve function, introduce constraints, introduce new artifacts or modify existing ones, and create subgoals. Plan objects order goals and link a product hierarchy to a process hierarchy. Specification objects define user inputs as constraints. Decision objects relate goals to user decisions and context objects describe the design context. Operators that are applied to design objects collectively form a representation of the design process for a given context. The representation is robust enough to effectively model four design paradigms [described in Journal of CAD (Gorti, S. and Sriram, R. D., Symbol to Form Mapping: a Framework for Conceptual Design, 1996, 28(11), 853-870)]: top-down decomposition, stepwise refinement, bottom-up composition and constraint propagation. To demonstrate this, we represent the designs of two TV remote controllers in the SHARED architecture. The example reveals that certain aspects of artifact knowledge are essentially contextindependent and that this representation can be a foundation for robust knowledge-based systems in design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-501
Number of pages13
JournalCAD Computer Aided Design
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Design
  • Design process
  • Knowledge-base
  • Object-oriented model
  • Ontology
  • Representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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