Making Design Objects Relevant to the Task at Hand

Gerhard Fischer, Kumiyo Nakakoji

Many problem-solving approaches are based on the assumption that a problem can be precisely defined before it is solved. These approaches are inadequate for dealing with ill-defined problems, which require the coevolution of problem setting and problem solving. In this paper, we describe integrated, domain-oriented, knowledge-based design environments and their underlying multifaceted architecture. The environments empower humans to cope with ill-defined problems, such as design, by supporting an incremental approach to problem setting and problem solving. We focus on the integration of specification, construction, and a catalog of prestored design objects in those environments. The synergy of integration enables the environments to make those objects relevant to the task at hand. Taking architectural design as a domain to illustrate our approach, we describe an operational, prototype system (CATALOGEXPLORER) that assists designers in locating examples in the catalog that are relevant to the task at hand as articulated by a partial specification and a partial construction. Users are thereby relieved of the task of forming queries and navigating in information spaces.

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