Exploration-Based Approach for Computationally Supported Design-by-Analogy
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Engineering designers practice design-by-analogy (DbA) during concept generation to retrieve knowledge from external sources or memory as inspiration to solve design problems. DbA is a tool for innovation that involves retrieving analogies from a source domain and transferring the knowledge to a target domain. While DbA produces innovative results, designers often come up with analogies by themselves or through serendipitous, random encounters. Computational support systems for searching analogies have been developed to facilitate DbA in systematic design practice. However, many systems have focused on a query-based approach, in which a designer inputs a keyword or a query function and is returned a set of algorithmically determined stimuli. The objective of this dissertation is to approach the analogical retrieval process using a visual interaction technique to enable designers to explore a space of analogies, rather than be constrained by what's retrieved by a query-based algorithm. With an exploration-based DbA tool, designers have the potential to uncover more useful and unexpected inspiration for innovative design solutions. This work first presents methods for creating a novel exploration-based DbA tool called VISION (Visual Interaction tool for Seeking Inspiration based on Nonnegative Matrix Factorization) that leverages the US patent database as a source of inspiration and visualizes a network of patents structured by their analogical relationships. The tool is then tested through cognitive engineering design studies to validate that it enables designers to retrieve between-domain patents and generate novel design solutions.