Formalisms for Negotiation in Engineering Design

Michael J. Scott and Erik K. Antonsson

Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
(August 1996), ASME.


Engineering projects often undergo several design iterations before being completed. Information received from other groups working on a project (analysis, manufacturing, marketing, sales) will often necessitate changes in a design. The interaction between different groups associated with a design project often takes the form of informal ``negotiation.'' Negotiation can ensue when target specifications are difficult to achieve, when there are trade-offs to be made between different facets of performance, or when conflicts arise between two engineering groups, such as design and manufacturing. This form of interaction commonly arises when engineering information is imprecise or difficult to quantify. While other researchers have addressed issues of negotiation in the design process, this prior work has not explicitly addressed the imprecision inherent in the design process. The Method of Imprecision is a formal method for the representation and manipulation of preliminary and imprecise design information, which has been used as a decision support tool for engineering design. The can provide a mechanism for the formalization of these informal negotiations.