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A method of using ontologies and propositions to intelligently identify relevant design rationale held in a semi-structured archive

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000033629D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Dec-20
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Dec-20
Document File: 6 page(s) / 102K

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This article describes a solution for a intelligent agent to act as a librarian for design knowledge. The agent listens to a design discussion within an e-meeting and identifies related design rationale archived from previous meetings. The agent uses two specific techniques to identify a result set that is both sensitive and specific. Firstly, it structures design reasoning in terms of a formal notation known as QOC (Questions, Options, Criteria). Secondly it expolits a general purpose ontology capable of matching synonyms, antonyms, holoynms, meronyms, and other semantic relationships.

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A method of using ontologies and propositions to intelligently identify relevant design rationale held in a semi-structured archive

Design Rationale is the reasoning behind any design proposal. It is used to develop, support, document, and communicate design thinking to stakeholders within and beyond the immediate design team. QOC (Questions, Options, Criteria) is a specific proposal (MacLean et al 1991) for modelling design rationale as a network of questions, options, and criteria and a set of arguments that support or contradict each option with respect to specific criteria. An example is shown below.

    Lambell (Lambell et al 2000) propose QOC as an encoding framework to support and encourage reuse of existing design. They report a postive evaluation of Desperado, a small-scale interactive system that enables users to display archived rationale selected from menus of question, option, and criterion names entered in previous meetings.

However, simple database systems of this kind do not scale to the needs of

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commercial design. A practical solution needs to fullfill the following criteria:
1. It should be integrated with the tools used to create design. Examples include brainstorming and modelling tools. (Fischer)
2. It should be active (Fischer) . It should not rely on designers stopping to search for prior rationale but should "listen" to the current design discussion and work in the background to identify and recommend prior design ideas that are "similiar"
3. It should balance the needs of specificity and sensitivity. While inferring relationships not explicitly coded in the ambiguous, informal language of design, it should minimise noise due to long lists of false positives.

    While a simplistic solution could be constructed using conventional database technology, a degree of linguistic analysis, pattern matching, and ontological intelligence is required to address criteria 2 and 3. The tool needs to find similarities regardless of differences in punctuation, morphology, or vocabulary while exploiting the semantic relationships implied by the propostional structure of the data as sets of related questions, options, and criteria. This disclosure describes a tool that meets these criteria.

    While the specific implementation, Reuse Librarian, is intended to support the QOC-based IBM* MeetingRoom tool, the proposed solution is extensible for integration with any design, reasoning, or knowledge management tool from which simple propositions can be inferred. MeetingRoom is an interactive environment for collaboratively brainstorming and developing rationale in design meetings or other forms of discussion. A prototype is under development.

    The invention is described in terms of a background agent that provides a set of services to a collaborating client application such as the MeetingRoom design facilitation tool. The client periodically notifies the agent of new or up...