Dominic: A Domain-Independent Program for Mechanical Engineering Design

  • Adele Howe
  • Paul Cohen
  • John Dixon
  • Melvin Simmons


Dominic is a program that implements a domain-independent structure for solving mechanical engineering design problems. Given a problem, Dominic constructs an initial design and iteratively improves it using knowledge about the dependent relationship between the design goals and the design variables. In this paper, we describe Dominic’s architecture, and demonstrate and analyze its performance on two classes of problems.

Dominic designs by a cycle of evaluation and redesign. Its input is a set of problem parameters describing physical constraints on the design, a set of performance goals, and an initial design procedure. Dominic evaluates the initial design and identifies its weaknesses. The program then selects a design variable, proposes a change in the variable, assesses the overall effect of the change, and implements it if the effect is positive. The evaluate-and-redesign cycle continues until the design is judged acceptable.

Dominic has been tested in two domains: design of standard v-belt drive systems and design of aluminum extruded heat sinks.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Asimow, M., (1962) Introduction to Design, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.Google Scholar
  2. Dixon, J.R., Simmons, M.K., Cohen, P.R., (1984) “An Architecture for Application of Artificial Intelligence to Design”, Proceedings of ACM/IEEE 21st Design Automation Conference, Albuquerque, NM.Google Scholar
  3. Dixon, J.R. and Simmons, M.K., (1984) “Expert Systems for Engineering Design: Standard V-Belt Design as an Example of the Design-Evaluate-Redesign Architecture”, Proceedin9s of the 1984 ASME Computets in Engineering Conference, Las Vegas, NV.Google Scholar
  4. Gibson, J.E., (1968) Introduction to Engineering Design, Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, NY.Google Scholar
  5. Krick, E.V., (1967) An Introduction to Engineering and Engineering Design, John Wiley & Sons, NY.Google Scholar
  6. Kulkarni, V.M., Dixon, J.R., Simmons, M.K., Sunderland, J.E., (1985) “Expert Systems For Design: The Design of Heat Fins as an Example of Conflicting Subgoals and the Use of Dependencies”, Proceedings of the ASME Computers in Engineering Conference, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  7. Mitchell, T., (1983) “An Intelligent Aid for Circuit Redesign”, Proceedings of the National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  8. Mostow, J., (1984) “Rutgers Workshop on Knowledge-Based Design”, SIGART Newsletter, No.90, pp. 19–32.Google Scholar
  9. Mostow, J. (1985) “Towards Better Models of the Design Process”, AI Magazine, 6:1, pp.44–56.Google Scholar
  10. Simon, H.A., (1967) The Sciences of the Artificial, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  11. Sussman, G.J., (1977) “Electrical Design: A Problem for Artificial Intelligence Research”, Proceedings of the Fifth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adele Howe
    • 1
  • Paul Cohen
    • 1
  • John Dixon
    • 2
  • Melvin Simmons
    • 3
  1. 1.Dept. of Computer and Information ScienceUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Dept. of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  3. 3.Knowledge Based Systems Branch, Corporate Research and DevelopmentGeneral Electric CompanySchenectadyUSA

Personalised recommendations