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Set-Based Thinking in the Engineering Design Community and Beyond

[+] Author Affiliations
Sourobh Ghosh, Warren Seering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DETC2014-35597, pp. V007T07A040; 13 pages
  • ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 2nd Biennial International Conference on Dynamics for Design; 26th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Buffalo, New York, USA, August 17–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4640-7
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


Since a series of academic case studies had revealed Toyota’s unique product development practices to the world, a flurry of research has been conducted into set-based design, also known as set-based concurrent engineering. In this paper, we review work related to set-based design across academic communities in efforts to find common themes and influences. After a review of this literature, we inductively arrive at two Principles of Set-Based Thinking: considering sets of distinct alternatives concurrently and delaying convergent decision making. These Principles allow us to articulate a working description of set-based design. We then examine these two Principles at work in a case example of a common theoretical construct in design.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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