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Natural Language Analysis for Biomimetic Design

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

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Paper No. DETC2004-57250, pp. 99-107; 9 pages
  • ASME 2004 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3a: 16th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, September 28–October 2, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4696-2 | eISBN: 0-7918-3742-4
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


Biomimetic design uses ideas from biological phenomena as inspiration in design. To support biomimetic design, biological analogies are identified by finding instances of functional keywords that describe the engineering problem in biological knowledge in natural-language format. Challenges in using this approach include the identification of keywords, and the quantity and quality of results found. WordNet, a lexical database, is used as a language framework to systematically generate alternative keywords to find matches and analyze the results of searches. Troponyms from WordNet were found to provide better and more plentiful keywords than did synonyms. Due to the potentially large number of matches to keywords, matches are analyzed to facilitate extraction of dominant biological phenomena associated with keywords. This analysis found that words that frequently collocated with keywords tend to be objects of the keyword verb or agents that carry out the actions of the keyword. Furthermore, nouns that are inanimate, e.g., substances, tend to be objects, and nouns that are animate e.g., animals, organs, tend to be agents. Distinguishing frequently collocated words and their relationships to keywords can be used to facilitate identification of biological analogies in natural-language format to support design.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME
Topics: Design , Biomimetics



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