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Published by: Buvana Iyer on Nov 01, 2010
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Presented at the Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, October31-November 3, 1990.
Decision-Based Design: A ContemporaryParadigm for Ship Design
F. Mistree,
Member, University of Houston, Texas,
W. F. Smith,
Associate Member, Dept. of Defence, Canberra, ACT, Australia,
B. A.Bras,
Visitor, Maritime Research Institute Netherlands, Wageningen,The Netherlands,
J. K. Allen,
Visitor, Janco Research, Inc., Houston,Texas,
D. Muster,
Visitor, University of Houston, Texas
For decades ships have beendesigned using the well-known “basisship approach” together with the equallywell-known Evans-Buxton-Andrewsspiral. The two principal limitations of the spiral are that the process of design isassumed to be sequential and theopportunity to include life cycleconsiderations is limited. It is ourcontention that in order to increase boththe efficiency and effectiveness of theprocess of ship design a new paradigmfor the process of design is needed. Inthis paper, we review recentdevelopments in the field of design andoffer a contemporary paradigm,Decision-Based Design, for the design of ships; one that encompasses systemsthinking and embodies the concept of concurrent engineering design for the lifecycle.
Engineering Design: AReview
Design, particularly engineeringdesign, is in a period of ferment. Formore than three centuries, the world viewof engineering design has been based inthe Newtonian concepts of reductionismand mechanism, and closed systems inequilibrium isolated from theirenvironments. However, in the past half century, there has been a virtualrevolution in the way engineers viewmany of their problems and, even morerecently, at some schools of engineering,in the way design is being taught. Thefundamental reason for these changes canbe attributed to two singular events; anew emphasis on systems thinking andthe pervasive presence of electroniccomputers. In their synergistic coupling,they have irreversibly changed the worldview of engineering and engineeringeducation and provided the foundationfor developing systematic methods forplanning approaches to the design of large-scale, complex, fuzzily definedtransdisciplinary systems open to theirenvironments.Systems thinking
, when applied tothe design of a system, emphasizes boththe emergent properties of the system as asingle entity and the separate andcollective properties of the systems andits subsystems in their intrinsicenvironments [1]. This is the antithesis 
Checkland [1] defines systems thinkingas "an epistemology which, when applied tohuman activity is based upon the four basicideas: emergence, hierarchy, communication,and control as characteristics of systems."
of an approach to design that requires theharmonious coupling of a designer'sexperience-based intuition and skills inperforming analyses which emphasizeboth reductionism and mechanism andthe design of the components of a systemin isolation from the influences of theirenvironments.Systems thinking and computertechnology exist in an overlapping worldof synergistic action. The broadeninginfluence of systems thinkingencourages engineers toapproach a design problem that spansseveral traditional disciplines in terms of which they define their design problem.Simultaneously and consciously, theydefine the laws and relationships thatcharacterize the transdisciplinary body of knowledge in which the problem isembedded. A corollary effect of theadvent of systems design is the blurringof the lines that have separated thetraditional disciplines in academicinstitutions and industry. We arebeginning to discover that the neat,dichotomous packaging that separates,say, mechanical engineering, electricalengineering and naval architecture ismore political than technical. It may be atraditional and convenient means fororganizing administrative entities andbudgets but it is not necessarily useful fororganizing technical, problem-solvingteams.In the decades since computersbecame the universal tool of engineersand scientists we have observed dramaticchanges in the computers themselves, ourmanner of using them, and in the openingof new related fields of research inscience and technology. We now havecomputers that can process symbols inthe broadest sense, words, graphs, andnumbers, and they are imbued with theability to reason. New software andhardware allow us to do things that, evena few years ago, we could contemplateonly wishfully. Designers are on thethreshold of being able to use a computernot just as a tool, but as an advisor, acritic and, ultimately, as a partner in theprocess of design. The function of processing symbols in any designmethod, we believe, is to provide ameans for a designer to identify andformulate a problem so that it can bemodeled as realistically as possible and toallow the formulation so generated to betranslated into a structured form amenableto solution.Most futurists (Naisbitt, Toffler,Bell, and Dennison, among others) agreethat we are at the beginning of theInformation Age. In this new age,information will be available to designersalmost instantly in quantity and quality
heretofore not considered possible.Designers will negotiate the solutions toopen problems in conjunction withcomputers, data-bases and expertsystems. They will be involved primarilywith the unstructured or partiallystructured parts of problems (that is, withestablishing system goals, partitioningthe system in terms of its functionalsubsystems and planning the designprocess itself) rather than with thestructured part (that is, the design of components) which will be automated.Independent of the approaches ormethods used to plan, establish goals andmodel systems, designers are and willcontinue to be involved in two primaryactivities, namely,
 processing symbols
making decisions
-- two activitiesthat are central to increasing the
and effectiveness
of designers and theprocesses they use.
The Recent Evolution of Designfrom an Art towards a Science
Design as an organized discipline isof relatively recent origin, compared toengineering which can trace itsbeginnings to the proto-engineers whobuilt Hammurabi's war engines. Theearliest design approaches wereintroduced soon after the start of theIndustrial Revolution. Their principalelements were the iterative, sequentialapplication of analyses based in theNewtonian principles of reductionismand mechanism and syntheses utilizingthe intuitive skills of a designer. Recentwork by members of a relatively broad-based community of researchers suggeststhat the development of a body of knowledge which supports the science of design can be and is being realized.However, it is probably a realisticassessment of the situation to state that, at 
We consider efficiency to be a measure of the swiftness with which information, that canbe used by a designer to make a decision, isgenerated.
We consider effectiveness to be a measureof quality of a decision (correctness,completeness, comprehensiveness) that is madeby a designer.
this time, the science of design is in apre-theory stage [2]. The body of work developed thus far has been largelyuncoordinated. However, there is asmall group within this communityattempting to identify and organize thecommonalties that exist in the designapproaches, techniques and methods of Simon's “designers”, that is, those whodevise courses of action aimed atchanging existing situations intopreferred ones. The long-term goal othis group is to establish thephilosophical underpinning and structureof a discipline-independent
science of design
of which the
science of engineering design
would be a principalpart.There have been several reviews of the relatively recent design literature.These include those by Pahl and Beitz [3](who give a comprehensive review of theevolution of design in Germany), Hubkaand Schregenberger [4] (who provide ashort review of trends in both Europe andin the United States), Andreasen [5](who gives an overview of the state of the art in Europe), Cross [6] (who haswritten an easy to read review of designmethods), De Boer [7] (who hasreviewed a number of design and generalproblem solving methods) and Fingerand Dixon [8, 9] (who provide a two-partreview of the state of the art inmechanical engineering design).An interesting survey on researchmethods to study design plus anextensive bibliography has been made byBrei et al. [10]. Stauffer et al. [11],Waldron et al. [12] and Wallace andHales [13] approach design science byexamining how designers design; adescriptive approach. Hubka [14] andPahl and Beitz [3] are well known fortheir prescriptive approach to design.Suh [15], Tomiyama and Yoshikawa[16], and Takala [17] have attempted todefine design using axioms. Ostrofsky[18], Suh [19], Mistree et al. [20], DeBoer [7] have been major proponents of approaching design from the standpointof decisions made by engineers in theprocess of design. Others haveapproached design from the standpoint of 

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