Axiomatic Design

Axiomatic design was developed in the late 1970s by Prof. Nam Suh at MIT offering two design axioms, Independence Axiom and Information Axiom, that provide a framework for the decision-making for a broad range of systems design (Suh 1977; Suh 1978).

Design involves interplay between “what” and “how” A good design generates “how” (design parameters) which satisfy “what” at minimum complexity. Axiomatic Design (AD) starts with the distinction of design domains (“what” domain and “how” domain) and systematizes the thought process during the mapping between them. The functional requirements (FRs) are defined as the minimum set of independent requirements that characterize the design goals, “what.” These FRs are then mapped into the physical domain, where the design parameters (DPs), “how,” are chosen to satisfy those FRs.

The AD process can be summarized as shown below.

1: Conceive the top level FRs.

2: Map FRs to DPs at the same level.

3: Mapping process can be analysed or evaluated with the two design axioms to ensure a good design decision at each level of mapping.

4: Above steps (1-3) are repeated top to down in a zigzag manner until the physical solution can be conceived from the mapped DPs.

5: If all the FRs reach leaf nodes (where the conceived FR-DP is clear and no further decomposition is necessary), physical integration of them to a feasible solution will lead to the final design solution

The key concepts of the AD process are: concept of domains, top-to-bottom decomposition, zigzag mapping and the two design axioms.

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  • Suh N (2001) Axiomatic Design: Advances and Applications, Oxford University Press
  • Suh N (2005) Complexity: Theory and Applications, Oxford University Press
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