This paper presents a formalism for considering the issues of learning in design. A foundation for machine learning in design (MLinD) is defined so as to provide answers to basic questions on learning in design, such as, “What types of knowledge can be learnt?”, “How does learning occur?”, and “When does learning occur?”. Five main elements of MLinD are presented as the input knowledge, knowledge transformers, output knowledge, goals/reasons for learning, and learning triggers. Using this foundation, published systems in MLinD were reviewed. The systematic review presents a basis for validating the presented foundation. The paper concludes that there is considerable work to be carried out in order to fully formalize the foundation of MLinD.
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