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Reasoning in Engineering Design

[+] Author Affiliations
Joshua D. Summers

Clemson University, Clemson, SC

Paper No. DETC2005-85334, pp. 329-340; 12 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


Peirce, the American philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is credited with first observing the triple of reasoning (deductive, inductive, and abductive). These three types of reasoning are discussed as they relate to the engineering design process. The reasoning classes are based upon distinctions between what is given and what is derived with respect to the grounds, the warrants, and the conclusions. Simple definitions are synthesized that agree well with the literature, while distinctions are made where overlapping and often conflicting definitions are found. This distinction leads to the need for separating abductive reasoning and retroductive reasoning. A generalized description of design agrees well with the definition for retroductive reasoning, as is demonstrated in this paper. A brief survey of “traditional” design reasoning methods (rule based reasoning, analogy based reasoning, simulation based reasoning, and constraint based reasoning) is developed to show that these design methods are equivalent or decomposable into the fundamental reasoning classes. This paper provides a discussion in a common framework for comparing design reasoning strategies found in automation systems based upon the fundamental classes.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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