Ontology-Based Representation of Design Decision Hierarchies

[+] Author and Article Information
Zhenjun Ming

Beijing Institute of Technology

Guoxin Wang

Beijing Institute of Technology, No. 5 Zhongguancun South Street, Haidian District, Beijing China 100081

Yan Yan

Beijing Institute of Technology

Jitesh H. Panchal

Purdue University

David (Chung Hyun) Goh

The University of Texas at Tyler

Janet K. Allen

University of Oklahoma

Farrokh Mistree

University of Oklahoma

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4037934 History: Received August 11, 2016; Revised August 29, 2017


The design of complex engineering systems requires that the problem is decomposed into sub-problems of manageable size. From the perspective of decision-based design, typically this results in a set of hierarchical decisions. It is critically important for computational frameworks for engineering system design to be able to capture and document this hierarchical decision making knowledge for reuse. Ontology is a formal knowledge modeling scheme that provides a means to structure engineering knowledge in a retrievable, computer-interpretable, and reusable manner. In our earlier work, we have created ontologies to represent individual design decisions (selection and compromise). Here we extend the selection and compromise decision ontologies to an ontology for hierarchical decisions. This can be used to represent workflows with multiple decisions coupling together. The core of the proposed ontology includes the coupled Decision Support Problem (DSP) construct, and two key Classes, namely, Process that represents the basic hierarchy building blocks wherein the DSPs are embedded, and Interface to represent the DSP information flows that link different Processes to a hierarchy. The efficacy of the ontology is demonstrated using a portal frame design example. Advantages of this ontology are that it is decomposable and flexible enough to accommodate the dynamic evolution of a process along the design timeline.

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