KNOWLEDGE SUPPORT SYSTEMS
From: AAAI Technical Report SS-93-01. Compilation copyright © 1993, AAAI (www.aaai.org). All rights reserved.
ERNEST EDMONDS and LINDA CANDY
LUTClll Research Centre
Department of ComputerStudies
University of Technology
Lougtdgorough Leicestershire UK
Abstract. The paper is concerned with computer-based support for conceptual design and, in particular, with the support of creative design. The nature of conceptual design is briefly reviewed and the lack of effective computer support noted. Recent developments in computer-based Knowledge
Support Systems, that offer interesting possibilities, are reviewed. The study of the early design of a clearly innovative product, the Lotus bicycle, is used to inform a discussion of the requirements for Knowledge
Support Systems that can support conceptual design.
Thus, the process is as muchone of problemdefinition or
selection as problemsolution: it is essentially creative.
The designer generates a set of scenarios or possible
prototypical solutions at this stage. A potential problem,
in relation to innovation, is that they tend to eliminate
options early on in the process (Lawson, 1980). One
important role that computer support could play is in
keeping ideas open longer by providing "external"
memory concept management
As Faltings (1991) puts it,
"Most research in intelligent
systems has focused on detail design,
the adaptation of an initial concept to
known about the process
conceptual design, the transition
between functional specification and
concept of an artifact that achieves
Figure 1 gives an impression of the role that computers
play, at the moment, in innovation. The boundaries
between these activities
are of prime concern. The
question is, simply, "Can the CAE
support begin sooner
and can it, as a consequence, amplify creative design
activities.". The problemis that the earliest stages are
characterised by uncertainty, tentative decisions and
informal representations of design ideas.
It is suggested that creative thought often occurs at the
conceptual stage and hence any support that could enhance
the designer’s performance that point could be extremely
valuable. A secondary, but significant, issue is that the
transition from conceptual to detail design often involves
the manual entry of information into a CAD
because the conceptual data had not been captured
electronically. These are the issues that the paper will
The concept of Knowledge
Support Systems, in which the
end user manipulates machine representations
knowledgedirectly (Shaw &Gaines, 1988), has recently
been developed in LUTCHI
and applied to scientific
exploration (Candy et al, 1993a; Edmondset al, 1993,
O’Brien et al, 1992a, 1992b). This work has clearly
demonstrated a potential for supporting creative work
(Candy et al, 1993b). At the same time, other workers
have beganto study the approachin the specific context of
design (Fischer &Nakakoji, 1992; Hori et al, 1993).
Perhaps the most important point to note about the nature
of conceptual design is that madeby Visser (1992), as
result of empiricalstudies of designers:
".. a problem solver is not ’given’
problems, but ’constructs’ them."
Research into the design process has suggested that many
of the requirements for support tools are similar to those
observed in the LUTCHI
study of scientific exploration
above (Visser, 1992; Fischer, 1990). For example, Visser
proposes that tools to assist in the management of
memory load would positively support design. Her
results relate closely to those of Candy al (1993a) in the
use of Knowledge Support Systems in the science
Or, as Hori et al (1993) put it:
"In ... creative design, humans
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T.J. & MCDAID,E.(1992a). End User Knowled
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Refinement Using End-User Knowledge Manipulati.
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SHAW,M. L. J. & GAINES, B. R. (1988). KITTE
Initiation and Transfer Tools for Experts a
FISCHER, & NAKAKOJI, (1992). Beyond the Macho
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