Tampere University of Technology

TUTCRIS Research Portal

Semantics and knowledge engineering for requirements and synthesis in conceptual design: Towards the automation of requirements clarification and the synthesis of conceptual design solutions

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Original languageEnglish
PublisherAalto University
Number of pages205
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-60-4697-6
ISBN (Print)978-952-60-4696-9
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameAalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS
PublisherAalto University
ISSN (Print)1799-4934
ISSN (Electronic)1799-4942


This thesis suggests the use of tools from the disciplines of Computational Linguistics and Knowledge Representation with the idea that such tools would enable the partial automation of two processes of Conceptual Design: the analysis of Requirements and the synthesis of concepts of solution. The viewpoint on Conceptual Design developed in this research is based on the systematic methodologies developed in the literature. The evolution of these methodologies provided precise description of the tasks to be achieved by the designing team in order to achieve successful design. Therefore, the argument of this thesis is that it is possible to create computer models of some of these tasks in order to partially automate the refinement of the design problem and the exploration of the design space.

In Requirements Engineering, the definition of requirements consists in identifying the needs of various stakeholders and formalizing it into design specifications. During this task, designers face the problem of having to deal with individuals from different expertise, expressing their needs with different levels of clarity. This research tackles this issue with requirements expressed in natural language (in this case in English). The analysis of needs is realised from different linguistic levels: lexical, syntactic and semantic. The lexical level deals with the meaning of words of a language. Syntactic analysis provides the construction of the sentence in language, i.e. the grammar of a language. The semantic level aims at finding about the specific meaning of words in the context of a sentence. This research makes extensive use of a semantic atlas based on the concept of clique from graph theory. Such concept enables the computation of distances between a word and its synonyms. Additionally, a methodology and a metric of similarity was defined for clarifying requirements at syntactic, lexical and semantic levels. This methodology integrates tools from research collaborators.

In the synthesis process, a Knowledge Representation of the necessary concepts for enabling computers to create concepts of solution was developed. Such, concepts are: function, input/output flow, generic organs, behaviour, components. The semantic atlas is also used at that stage to enable a mapping between functions and their solutions. It works as the interface between the concepts of this Knowledge Representation.