SSP Group Meeting
November 27th, Wednesday, 2-3pm
Department of Artificial Intelligence, 80 South Bridge, Room F13


Design Support Systems: Design Rationale Maintenance and Use

Rene Banares-Alcantar

The seminar aims to introduce the design support system KBDS and explain how it is being used to improve our understanding of the requirements for effective support of the design process for chemical plants.

KBDS is a support system for conceptual chemical process design that maintains a representation of the design process history in terms of:
- design objectives (objectives, constraints and specifications),
- design alternatives (structural descriptions of the design artifact),
- design models (mathematical descriptions of the design artifact) and - design rationale (trace of the justifications for design decisions).

KBDS has been used in the conceptual design of several chemical processes (hydrofluoric acid, benzene and methyl acetate), biochemical processes (penicillin and an urban waste water treatment plant) and parts of a nuclear plant. Its use makes it possible to detect inconsistent decisions (through dependency-directed backtracking); generate documentation automatically; and explore the sensitivity of a design with respect to different design criteria.

Our current and future efforts are related to the extension of KBDS for:
- automatic extraction of keywords to index design history objects for search and navigation purposes,
- identification and classification of problem/solution templates, and
- re-use of design knowledge and design components.
We plan to use techniques from AI areas such as case-based reasoning, learning and natural language.