Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The coexistence of engineering meanings of function: Four responses and their methodological implications

  • Pieter E. Vermaas (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

In this position paper, the ambiguity of functional descriptions in engineering is considered from a methodological point of view. Four responses to this ambiguity are discussed, ranging from defining a single meaning of function and rejecting the different meanings that are currently used in engineering to accepting these meanings as coexisting in engineering and taking function as a family resemblance concept. Rejecting the different meanings is described as the straightforward response to resolving the ambiguity of functional descriptions, yet in engineering research and design methodology it rather seems to be accepted that engineers do use the coexisting meanings side by side. In this paper, explanations are given of why this practice is beneficial to engineering. Then it is explored how the particular meaning that engineers attach to function depends on the tasks for which functional descriptions are used. Finally, the methodological implications of the four responses to the ambiguity of functional descriptions are discussed.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Reprint requests to: Pieter E. Vermaas, Department of Philosophy, Delft University of Technology, Jaffalaan 5, Delft 2628 BX, The Netherlands. E-mail: p.e.vermaas@tudelft.nl
References
Hide All
Albers A., Matthiesen S., Thau S., & Alink T. (2008). Support of design engineering activity through C&CM: temporal decomposition of design problems. Proc. TMCE Symp. (Horváth I., & Ruzák Z., Eds.), pp. 295305. Delft: Delft University of Technology.
Arp R., & Smith B. (2008). Function, role, and disposition in basic formal ontology. Nature Precedings, 1941.1. Accessed at http://precedings.nature.com/documents/1941/version/1/html
Borgo S., Carrara M., Garbacz P., & Vermaas P.E. (2009). A formal ontological perspective on behaviors and functions of technical artifacts. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 23, 321.
Borgo S., Carrara M., Garbacz P., & Vermaas P.E. (2010). Formalizations of functions within the DOLCE ontology. Proc. TMCE Symp. (Horváth I., Mandorli F., & Ruzák Z., Eds.), pp. 113126. Delft: Delft University of Technology.
Bracewell R.H., & Sharpe J.E.E. (1996). Functional descriptions used in computer support for qualitative scheme generation: Schemebuilder. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 10, 333346.
Brown D.C., & Blessing L. (2005). The relationship between function and affordance. Proc. IDETC/CIE, Paper No. DECT2005-8501, Long Beach, CA, September 24–28.
Burek P., Herre H., & Loebe F. (2009). Ontological analysis of functional decomposition. Proc. Conf. New Trends in Software Methodologies, Tools, and Techniques, pp. 428439. Amsterdam: IOS Press.
Carrara M., Garbacz P., & Vermaas P.E. (2011). If engineering function is a family resemblance concept: assessing three formalization strategies. Applied Ontology 6, 141163.
Chakrabarti A. (1998). Supporting two views of function in mechanical design. Proc. Workshop on Functional Modelling and Teleological Reasoning, 15th AAAI National Conf. Artificial Intelligence, Madison, WI, July 26–30.
Chakrabarti A., & Blessing L. (1996). Special issue: representing functionality in design. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 10, 251253.
Chakrabarti A., & Bligh T.P. (2001). A scheme for functional reasoning in conceptual design. Design Studies 22, 493517.
Chandrasekaran B. (2005). Representing function: relating functional representation and functional modeling research streams. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 19, 6574.
Chandrasekaran B., & Josephson J.R. (2000). Function in device representation. Engineering With Computers 16, 162177.
Chittaro L., & Kumar A.N. (1998). Reasoning about function and its applications to engineering. Artificial Intelligence in Engineering 12, 331336.
Crilly N. (2010). The roles that artefacts play: technical, social and aesthetic functions. Design Studies 31, 311344.
De Kleer J., & Brown J.S. (1984). A qualitative physics based on confluences. Artificial Intelligence 24, 783.
Deng Y.M. (2002). Function and behavior representation in conceptual mechanical design. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis, and Manufacturing 16, 343362.
Eckert C. (2013). That which is not form: the practical challenges in using functional concepts in design. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 27(3), 217232 [this issue].
Erden M.S., Komoto H., Van Beek T.J., D'Amelio V., Echavarria E., & Tomiyama T. (2008). A review of function modeling: approaches and applications. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 22, 147169.
Far B.H., & Elamy A.H. (2005). Functional reasoning theories: problems and perspectives. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 19, 7588.
Ferguson E.S. (1992). Engineering and the Mind's Eye. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Gero J.S. (1990). Design prototypes: a knowledge representation schema for design. AI Magazine 11(4), 2636.
Gero J.S., & Kannengiesser U. (2004). The situated function–behaviour–structure framework. Design Studies 25, 373391.
Gero J.S., Tham K.W., & Lee H.S. (1992). Behaviour: a link between function and structure in design. In Intelligent Computer-Aided Design (Brown D.C., Waldron M.B., & Yoshikawa H., Eds.), pp. 193225. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Goel A.K. (2013). One 30-year case study and 15 principles: implications of an artificial intelligence methodology for functional modeling. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 27(3), 203215 [this issue].
Goel A.K., & Bhatta S.R. (2004). Use of design patterns in analogy-based design. Advanced Engineering Informatics 18, 8594.
Hirtz J., Stone R.B., McAdams D.A., Szykman S., & Wood K.L. (2002). A functional basis for engineering design: reconciling and evolving previous efforts. Research in Engineering Design 13, 6582.
Houkes W., & Vermaas P.E. (2010). Technical Functions: On the Use and Design of Artefacts. Dordrecht: Springer.
Keuneke A.M. (1991). Device representation: the significance of functional knowledge. IEEE Expert 6(2), 2225.
Kitamura Y., Koji Y., & Mizoguchi R. (2005). An ontological model of device function: industrial deployment and lessons learned. Applied Ontology 1, 237262.
Kitamura Y., & Mizoguchi R. (2004). Ontology-based systematization of functional knowledge. Journal of Engineering Design 15, 327351.
Kitamura Y., & Mizoguchi R. (2010). Characterizing functions based on ontological models from an engineering point of view. In Formal Ontology in Information Systems (Galton A., & Mizoguchi R., Eds.), pp. 301314. Amsterdam: IOS Press.
Kitamura Y., Takafuji S., & Mizoguchi R. (2007). Towards a reference ontology for functional knowledge interoperability. Proc. IDETC/CIE, Paper No. DETC2007-35373, Las Vegas, NV, September 4–7.
Lind M. (1994). Modeling goals and functions of complex plants. Applied Artificial Intelligence 8, 259283.
Modarres M., & Cheon S.W. (1999). Function-centered modeling of engineering systems using the goal tree–success tree technique and functional primitives. Reliability Engineering and System Safety 64, 181200.
Okubo M., Koji Y., Sasajima M., Kitamura Y., & Mizoguchi R. (2007). Towards interoperability between functional taxonomies using an ontology-based mapping. Proc. ICED, pp. 154.1154.12, Paris, August 28–31.
Pahl G., Beitz W., Feldhusen J., & Grote K.H. (2007). Engineering Design: A Systematic Approach (3rd ed.). London: Springer.
Planck M. (1970). The unity of the physical world-picture. In Physical Reality: Philosophical Essays on Twentieth-Century Physics (Toulmin S., Ed.), pp. 127. New York: Harper & Row.
Srinivasan V., & Chakrabarti A. (2009). SAPPhIRE: an approach to analysis and synthesis. eProc ICED, pp. 2.4172.428, Palo Alto, CA, August 24–27.
Stone R.B., & Wood K.L. (2000). Development of a functional basis for design. Journal of Mechanical Design 122, 359370.
Suh N.P. (1990). The Principle of Design. New York: Oxford University Press.
Umeda Y., Ishii M., Yoshioka M., Shimomura Y., & Tomiyama T. (1996). Supporting conceptual design based on the function–behavior–state modeller. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing 10, 275288.
Umeda Y., & Tomiyama T. (1995). FBS modeling: modeling scheme of function for conceptual design. Proc. Working Papers of the 9th Int. Workshop on Qualitative Reasoning About Physical Systems, pp. 271278, Amsterdam, May 16–19, 1995.
Van Eck D. (2009). On relating functional modeling approaches: abstracting functional models from behavioral models. eProc ICED, pp. 2.89–2.100, Palo Alto, CA, August 24–27, 2009.
Van Eck D. (2011). Incommensurability and rationality in engineering design: the case of functional decomposition. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 15(2), 118136.
Vermaas P.E. (2009). The flexible meaning of function in engineering. eProc ICED, pp. 2.1132.124, Palo Alto, CA, August 24–27.
Vermaas P.E. (2010). Technical functions: towards accepting different engineering meanings with one overall account. Proc. TMCE Symp. (Horváth I., Mandorli F., & Ruzák Z., Eds.), pp. 183194. Delft: Delft University of Technology.
Wittgenstein L. (1953). Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

AI EDAM
  • ISSN: 0890-0604
  • EISSN: 1469-1760
  • URL: /core/journals/ai-edam
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 39 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 217 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.