Research Papers

A Formalization of Functions as Operations on Flows

[+] Author and Article Information
Stefano Borgo

 Laboratory for Applied Ontology, ISTC-CNR and KRDB at FUB, Italy

Massimiliano Carrara

Department of Philosophy,  University of Padua, Italy

Pawel Garbacz

Department of Philosophy,  The John Paul Ii Catholic University of Lublin, Poland

Pieter E. Vermaas

Department of Philosophy,  Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

From a different perspective, Tolga Kurtoglu et al.  [17] have developed a taxonomy complementing the Functional Basis representation, allowing the development of automated design tools.

This interpretation is shared also by Riichiro Mizoguchi (personal communication).

Technically c can be modeled in different ways, e.g., as the reification of the set of constraints that form the customer needs. Since we do not dwell into the structure and nature of these constraints here, details are left out. Analogously, for r.

See Ref. [27] for a recent discussion about how customer needs as captured in this paper by CustNeeds hang together with design requirements as captured by Req.

Of course, there is an intuitive change in the signal location which could be modeled via a change in the associated material flow, if any. FB is definitely opaque on this kind of issues.

One might argue that FB construal of flows seems idiosyncratic as it classifies weight or human force as kinds of energy flow. We do not question those classifications since they are part of the FB theory, but take them for granted as if they were the empirical data to be represented. Note moreover that in our ontological model weight is further qualified as a quality of physical objects, which is a much less controversial categorization.

The reader can find the exhaustive list of their contributions at http://www.ei.sanken.osaka-u.ac.jp/english/.

J. Comput. Inf. Sci. Eng 11(3), 031007 (Sep 02, 2011) (14 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3615523 History: Received July 08, 2009; Revised March 10, 2011; Published September 02, 2011; Online September 02, 2011

This paper presents a formalization of the notion of function as operation on flows as advanced in the Functional Basis approach of Stone and Wood. We first analyze the modeling of functions in this approach and identify the notions that are ontological significant for their formalization within the foundational ontology DOLCE. Then, we build the logical system in which this engineering notion of function is formally translated and connected to the ontology. Furthermore, we posit a number of constraints for a correct interpretation of the formal system and also provide a web ontology language version. We conclude with an assessment of our results and a discussion of our larger project aimed at analysing functional descriptions of technical artifacts, and at translating functional descriptions using different engineering notions of function.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

A functional description of the power screwdriver

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Figure 2

Functional decomposition of a power screwdriver (Ref. [10, p. 363])

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Figure 3

Ontological background: taxonomy and basic relations (fragment)

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Figure 4

Classification of flows in the product function representation of the power screwdriver

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Figure 5

An example of an “extended” flow given by the sum of two distinct (electricity) flows

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Figure 6

DOLCE conceptual dependencies

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Figure 8

OWL ontology for FB



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