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Cognitive Modeling of Iteration in Conceptual Design

[+] Author Affiliations
Pawat Chuslip, Yan Jin

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Paper No. DETC2004-57521, pp. 473-485; 13 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


Design is an iterative process. This process involves mental activities and mental iterations. Research to date has shown that mental iterations can have significant impact on design performance. While its important role is recognized, our current understanding of mental iteration in conceptual design is still very limited. This limitation has prevented us from providing effective training and technological support to improve current practice of conceptual design. In this paper, we develop a cognitive activity model of conceptual design to capture mental activities in conceptual design and their relationships so that various loops of iteration can be identified. The model illustrates three major iteration loops embedded in the design process, namely, problem redefinition loop, idea stimulation loop and concept reuse loop. A cognitive experiment is conducted to validate the model and investigate iteration behavior in both creative design and routine design situations. The result of the experiment indicates that 1) iteration occurs more in creative design than in routine design, 2) the percentages of both problem redefinition and idea stimulation loops are much larger in creative design than in routine design, and 3) the proportion of concept reuse looping in routine design is larger than that in creative design.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME



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