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Systematic Search and Ranking of Physical Contradictions Using Graph Theory Principles: Toward a Systematic Analysis of Design Strategies and their Impacts: TRIZ and Knowledge-Based Innovation in Science and Industry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1182
Number of pages18
JournalProcedia Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed
EventTRIZ and Knowledge-Based Innovation in Science and Industry - , United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jan 2000 → …


Abstract This paper presents three interconnected developments made during the course of a recent collective research work, the development of a systematic graph-based search tool for physical contradictions, a ranking approach for defining the order of criticality of the design contradictions and the associated analysis of the different design strategies that can be used to solve those contradictions or to enhance performance indicators. The systematic graph-based search for physical contradictions is using the set of elementary variables necessary to describe the system as basic input. The initial set is extracted based on taxonomy of variables combining classification work from NIST and classification of variables derived from the Bond Graph theory. The contradiction search method is in a second step classifying the set of variables into three categories: the constraint variables imposed to the designers by the context and the environment, the design variables on which the designer as the possibility to act and the performance variables that are used to evaluate the performance of the designed system. In a third step, interactions between variables are searched using two possibilities: a causal ordering algorithm developed during the course of the research or via a collective work of experts. The result of this step is a directed graph starting from the constraints variables and ending with the performance variables. In the fourth step objectives have to be assigned to the performance variables (minimal value, maximal value or target value). Those objectives are propagated back into the graph by analyzing the impact of the variables interacting with the performance variables. A physical contradiction is detected each time it is discovered that a design variable is associated with two contradictory objectives. Following this approach, a contradiction is represented as a node in the directed graph. It is possible to systematically map the different design strategies that can be used and to rank the possible impact of those design strategies. The article presents a concrete application of the approach on the case study of an air bearing and demonstrates the novelty of the approach to generate new viewpoints and insight in the analysis of the early stages of the development process. The potential impact of such type of design support is potentially very important. A future step will consists of developing a computer aided tool implementing the method.


  • graph theory, TRIZ, physical contradiction, innovative principles, air bearing

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland