Function Modeling: Benchmark Models, Problems, and Approaches

AIEDAM Special Issue, Summer 2017, Vol.31, No.4

Guest Editors: Joshua D. Summers, Claudia Eckert, Chiradeep Sen, Srinivasan Venkataraman, Matt Bohm

This special issue provides a justification and a proposed research direction for establishing a common benchmarking scheme for function representations that are developed and deployed throughout academia and practice with the ultimate goal of providing industry with practically usable functional modelling tools and concepts. This is based on work presented in the International Conference on Engineering Design in 2013 [1]. Despite decades of research into functional descriptions [2-27], industry has not appeared to have incorporated functional modeling in practice while still proclaiming a need to express product information beyond form. Possible reasons contributing to this resistance might be that there is no yet a canonical definition of function, each approach being grounded in different conceptualizations or that there might be multiple distinct concepts with shared terminology. Researchers and practitioners have proposed many different views of function in engineering design [26, 28-31]. These views have resulted in may different approaches to model information about a product's functionality. For example several design textbooks talk about using function-flow networks to capture the sequence and dependencies for the desired functionality of a product or system [3, 32-34]. Rather than develop a single, unified definition of function, we assert that each approach has its own strengths and weakness; each approach is useful and are particularly well suited for different reasoning applications and domains yet the transference across these being difficult at best. Therefore, we are proposing a different approach to function research; by developing a set of comparative benchmarks that can be explored with the different modeling approaches, the community can start to discern which approaches are more useful for different needs, and perhaps to discover which elements of the representations and vocabularies are most conducive for different elements of functional thinking.

To this end, we invite special contributions in three specific areas that, combined, will help provide a framework and justification for a systematic benchmarking process.

  1. First, we are seeking papers that present first, a function model created within the author's representation of choice, second, a detailed critique of a function model for a given problem (Reverse Engineering of a Glue Gun) from past function benchmarking workshops , and third, an explanation of the limitations of the modelling approach within this given problem. These are used to demonstrate how a single problem can be used to compare multiple different modelling approaches
  2. Second, we are seeking benchmark challenge problems. The problems should be fully detailed in terms of scope, size, reasoning, domain, and other criteria identified by the researchers.
  3. Third, we seek papers presenting experimental studies exploring a benchmark dimension in function modelling. The experimental studies might explore the interpretability of a representation, the support of a representation for innovative ideation, or perhaps the support of the representation for physics based reasoning.

All submissions will be reviewed by at least three reviewers. The selection for publication will be made on the basis of these reviews. High quality papers not selected for this special issue may be considered for standard publication in AIEDAM.

Note that all enquiries and submissions for special issues go to the Guest Editors, and not to the Editor-in-Chief

Important dates:
Intend to submit (Title & Abstract):15 November 2015
Submission deadline for full papers:15 October 2016
Reviews due:1 December, 2016
Notification & reviews due to authors:1 February 2017
Revised papers due from authors:1 July 2016
Second round of reviews due:1 November 2016
Final version due:1 February 2017
Issue Appears:August 2017
Guest editors:
Dr. Joshua D. SummersDr. Claudia Eckert
Department of Mechanical EngineeringDepartment of Design and Innovation
Clemson UniversityThe Open University
203 Fluor Daniel EIBWalton Hall, Milton Keynes
Clemson, SC 29634-0921MK7 6AA
Email: jsummer @ clemson.eduEmail: claudia.eckert @