Towards an ontology of generic engineering design activities

A.H.B. Duffy, Siang K. Sim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that there is no shared understanding (i.e. an ontology) of the design activities that designers perform in the design process. Hence the purpose of the paper was directed towards identifying and classifying a generic set of design activities from published literature into what are referred to as design definition activities, design evaluation activities and design management activities. In an attempt to achieve a shared understanding of these activities, a set of consistent and coherent definitions of these activities are deliberated and presented. A knowledge level representation based on Newells Knowledge Level hypothesis governed by the Principle of Rationality is used to represent a design activity that is motivated by a design goal of that activity through which input knowledge is changed into output knowledge by the design agents knowledge. The ontological completeness, clarity and coherence of activities are evaluated through a protocol analysis and the design process in the domain of electronic design (in particular System-on-a-Chip designs (SoC)).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-223
Number of pages24
JournalResearch in Engineering Design
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2003


  • ontology
  • design activities
  • definition activities
  • evaluation activities
  • management activities
  • knowledge change

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