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Bridging Cross-Domain Terminology for Biomimetic Design

[+] Author Affiliations
I. Chiu, L. H. Shu

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Paper No. DETC2005-84908, pp. 93-101; 9 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5a: 17th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Long Beach, California, USA, September 24–28, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4742-X | eISBN: 0-7918-3766-1
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


This work aims to improve creativity and innovation in design by facilitating the use of cross-domain analogies, particularly from biological phenomena, as stimulus for concept generation. Rather than create an enormous database of biological knowledge to specifically support engineering design, we have chosen to take advantage of the large amount of biological knowledge already in natural-language format, e.g., books, journals, etc. Relevant biological analogies for any given design problem are found by searching for instances of functional keywords that describe the intended effect of the design solution in a natural-language corpus. However, the optimal choice of keywords, or search terms, is complicated by the fact that engineers and biologists may use differing domain-specific lexicons to describe related concepts. Therefore, an engineer without sufficient background in biology may not be able to identify keywords with biological connotation that are not obviously related to the engineering keywords. This paper describes efforts to bridge the gap in lexicons by examining words that frequently collocate with searched words. The biological meaningfulness of these bridge words is characterized by how frequently they occur within definitions of biological terms in a biology dictionary. Search words identified this way may not be obvious to domain novices, and may parallel those suggested by domain experts, thus facilitating the use of cross-domain ideas to support design. Our approach of generating bridge words with biological meaningfulness is generic and can be used to bridge any disparate domains (e.g., engineering and economics). Thus designers are enabled to quickly access relevant concepts from different domains to produce more innovative solutions.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Design , Biomimetics



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