A computational aid for problem formulation in early conceptual design

Christopher J. MacLellan, Pat Langley, Jami Shah, Mahmoud Dinar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Conceptual design is a high-level cognitive activity that draws upon distinctive human mental abilities. An early and fundamental part of the design process is problem formulation, in which designers determine the structure of the problem space they will later search. Although many tools have been developed to aid the later stages of design, few tools exist that aid designers in the early stages. In this paper, we describe Problem Formulator, an interactive environment that focuses on this stage of the design process. This tool has representations and operations that let designers create, visualize, explore, and reflect on their formulations. Although this process remains entirely under the user's control, these capabilities make the system well positioned to aid the early stages of conceptual design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031005
JournalJournal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Computer-aided conceptual design
  • Conceptual design
  • Design representation
  • Problem formulation
  • Requirement analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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