Full Content is available to subscribers

Subscribe/Learn More  >

The Meaning of “Near” and “Far”: The Impact of Structuring Design Databases and the Effect of Distance of Analogy on Design Output

[+] Author Affiliations
Katherine Fu, Jonathan Cagan, Kenneth Kotovsky

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Joel Chan, Christian Schunn

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Kristin Wood

Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore

Paper No. DETC2012-70420, pp. 877-888; 12 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 9th International Conference on Design Education; 24th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4506-6
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


This work lends insight into the meaning and impact of “near” and “far” analogies. A cognitive engineering design study is presented that examines the effect of the distance of analogical design stimuli on design solution generation, and places those findings in context of results from the literature. The work ultimately sheds new light on the impact of analogies in the design process and the significance of their distance from a design problem. In this work, the design repository from which analogical stimuli are chosen is the U.S. patent database, a natural choice, as it is one of the largest and easily accessed catalogued databases of inventions. The “near” and “far” analogical stimuli for this study were chosen based on a structure of patents, created using a combination of Latent Semantic Analysis and a Bayesian based algorithm for discovering structural form, resulting in clusters of patents connected by their relative similarity. The findings of this engineering design study are contextualized with the findings of recent work in design by analogy, by mapping the analogical stimuli used in the earlier work into similar structures along with the patents used in the current study. Doing so allows the discovery of a relationship between all of the stimuli and their relative distance from the design problem. The results confirm that “near” and “far” are relative terms, and depend on the characteristics of the potential stimuli. Further, although the literature has shown that “far” analogical stimuli are more likely to lead to the generation innovative solutions with novel characteristics, there is such a thing as too far. That is, if the stimuli are too distant, they then can become harmful to the design process. Importantly, as well, the data mapping approach to identify analogies works, and is able to impact the effectiveness of the design process. This work has implications not only in the area of finding inspirational designs to use for design by analogy processes in practice, but also for synthesis, or perhaps even unification, of future studies in the field of design by analogy.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Topics: Design , Databases



Interactive Graphics


Country-Specific Mortality and Growth Failure in Infancy and Yound Children and Association With Material Stature

Use interactive graphics and maps to view and sort country-specific infant and early dhildhood mortality and growth failure data and their association with maternal

Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In