This book presents, illustrates and empirically validates a new approach to modeling and explaining the nature of engineering design; the Recursive Model of Framing in Design (RFD). The RFD model offers a formalization of a grey area in design science by viewing the design process as a recursive interaction of problem framing and problem solving.
Addressing the absence of any formalizations of the interactions occurring within this complex reasoning operation up to now, RFD expresses the existing knowledge in a formal and structured manner based on a cognitive phenomenon known as (reflective) solution talkback.
The book explores several schemas implied by the model, making the interactive patterns of the design process explicit and further elaborating to reflect the empirical results.
Including examples of how the RFD model has been used in designing user-focused environments for web and semantic web navigations, this volume will be of particular interest to those interested in designing and working with new semantic web applications.
In this book, I present, illustrate and empirically validate a novel approach to modelling and explaining the nature of engineering design. The main outcome of this work is the formal definition of problem framing and the formulation of the Recursive Model of Framing in Design. The model (abbreviated as ‘RFD model’) represents a formalisation of a grey area in the science of design, and sees the design process as a recursive interaction of problem framing and problem solving.
The proposed RFD model is based upon a cognitive phenomenon known as (reflective) solution talkback. Previously, there were no formalisations of the knowledge-level interactions occurring within this complex reasoning operation. My RFD model is thus an attempt to express the existing knowledge in a formal and structured manner. The RFD model is applied to the knowledge-level description of the conducted experimental study that is annotated and analysed in the defined terminology. Eventually, several schemas implied by the model are identified, exemplified, and elaborated to reflect the empirical results.
In the book I propose a set of principled schemas on the conceptual (knowledge) level with an aim to make the interactive patterns of the design process explicit. These conceptual schemas are elicited from the rigorous experiments that utilised the structured and principled approach to recording the designers conceptual reasoning steps and decisions. They include
• the refinement of an explicit problem specification within a conceptual frame;
• the refinement of an explicit problem specification using a reframed reference; and
• the conceptual re-framing (i.e. the identification and articulation of new conceptual terms)
Since the conceptual schemas reflect the sequence of the ‘typical’ decisions the designer may make during the design process, there is no single, symbol-level method for the implementation of these conceptual patterns. Thus, when one decides to follow the abstract patterns and schemas, this RFD model alone can foster a principled design on the knowledge level. For the purpose of computer-based support, these abstract schemas need to be turned into operational models and consequently suitable methods.
Some examples of how the RFD model helped me and my colleagues in designing novel user-focused environments for web and semantic web navigations are mentioned towards the end of the book.
Many people contributed to my professional growth and in various ways left their mark on my work and on this book. My first thanks goes to Zdeněk Zdráhal and John Domingue from Knowledge Media Institute of The Open University, who recognised research potential in my early and rather fuzzy ideas about modelling design. A number of other people provided comments on the models presented in this book at different stages of my research, including Marc Eisenstadt, Marek Hatala, Joanna Kwiat, Paul MacEachern, Paul Mulholland, Tammy Sumner, Victoria Uren, Michael Valášek, and Stuart Watt. I cannot forget my colleagues at the University of Technology in Košice, Slovakia (Tomáš Sabol and Ján Paralič), and Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Technology, Japan (Shuichi Fukuda), with whom I started investigating partial aspects of designing, which eventually led me to forming this line of research.
I am also grateful to my examiners, Bashar Nuseibeh from The Open University and David Robertson from the University of Edinburgh for their helpful and encouraging feedback during the defense of my PhD thesis that forms the core of this book. The experimental work would not be possible with the enthusiasm of Petr Horáček and Lukáš Trejtnar from Czech Technical University, Prague.
My greatest debt is to my parents, my brother and my wife, whose support and encouragement became an endless source of confidence and motivation driving my research in the UK. The dedication of this work to them is only a little acknowledgement of all that support.
Finally, I want to thank to all the readers who decide to open this book and learn about my view of design and designing. I would also l like to invite you, the readers, to share your opinions, thoughts, and even formal models to respond to my claims.
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