Date of Award

7-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Summers, Joshua D

Committee Member

Mocko , Gregory M

Committee Member

Ziegert , John C

Abstract

Preservation and reuse of valuable design experience aids in the design of new products and processes. Product design repositories are presently being used as a means to preserve and later reuse design knowledge. As such, patent databases such as the United States Patent office and the European Patent Office offer design knowledge in the form of patents. Unfortunately, these sources of novel design solutions do not appear to have been have not been effectively used in the context of engineering design.
In this research, the role of patents in a systematic design process is reviewed understand its utility in the design process. A major hurdle, in the reuse of patent design knowledge, is the lack of formal tools to support designers in understanding and applying the available information to new problems. Information theory fundamentals are used to study patent claim text which describes the subject matter of the patent and to develop an understanding of the information content within the text claim and other representations of the claim.
Graph based representations are recognized as an effective way to represent design information. They are considered as ideal for modeling patent claims as they enable the direct use of the information as input to existing design processes and tools, such as function models, the core product model, and function-behavior-structure scheme. This new approach provides a designer-friendly model of patent claims and also enables the use of intelligent search mechanisms. Existing graph based product representation schemas are studied for their suitability to model patent claims. A new representation tailored for patent claims is proposed since, the existing schemas where found to be insufficient to efficiently model patent claim. Patent claims modeled using multiple representation schemas are compared with the models developed using the proposed representation, for the information content captured from claim text.
The representation technique proposed here may aid in the retrieval of the relevant patent design information, thereby promoting use of patent information to aid designers. Further refinement and evaluation of the scheme along with the development of grammar and ontologies for a vocabulary is needed. This representation scheme, with existing search and retrieval methods, should help designers in generating both novel and practical concepts based on patent information.

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