Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

David C. Brown, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Lee A. Becker, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Stanley M. Selkow, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Ashok Goel, Committee Member




Ever since artifacts have been produced, improving them has been a common human activity. Improving an artifact refers to modifying it such that it will be either easier to produce, or easier to use, or easier to fix, or easier to maintain, and so on. In all of these cases, "easier" means fewer resources are required for those processes. While 'resources' is a general measure, which can ultimately be expressed by some measure of cost (such as time or money), we believe that at the core of many improvements is the notion of reduction of complexity, or in other words, simplification. This talk presents our research on performing design simplification using analogical reasoning. We first define the simplification problem as the problem of reducing the complexity of an artefact from a given point of view. We propose that a point of view from which the complexity of an artefact can be measured consists of a context, an aspect and a measure. Next, we describe an approach to solving simplification problems by goal-directed analogical reasoning, as our implementation of this approach. Finally, we present some experimental results obtained with the system. The research presented in this dissertation is significant as it focuses on the intersection of a number of important, active research areas - analogical reasoning, functional representation, functional reasoning, simplification, and the general area of AI in Design.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Computer Science

Project Type


Date Accepted





design, model based analogical reasoning, complexity, simplification, Engineering design, Data processing, Qualitative reasoning, Artificial intelligence, Analogical reasoning