Date of Award

1-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Summers, Joshua D

Abstract

Developing mechanical engineering design automation applications using current day textual programming languages like C, C++ requires extensive programming skills. However, learning to program in these environments can be time consuming and often frustrating to mechanical engineers due to the use of complex textual constructs and syntax to represent an algorithm in a linear fashion. Further, these programming languages offer a poor visualization of the data and the data flow due to their textual nature. The use of graphical objects for programming makes visualization easier and also eliminates the need for linear representation of algorithms. This thesis initiates the development of a visual programming language that makes use of objects representing geometric entities and relations for programming.
The design exemplar was introduced in the literature as a representation that makes use of a structured set of entities and relations for representing, querying and modifying design data. This research investigates the possibility of developing the design exemplar system into a visual programming environment for mechanical engineers. To this end, the basic components of a visual programming language are identified and compared with the design exemplar system. The aspects of a programming language that the design exemplar system currently does not support are identified which includes the basic components and programming constructs. While, a visual language compiler is identified to be essential for this new programming environment, programming constructs like looping, conditional branching are identified to be important for handling large sets of data processing operations and thus can be useful for developing design automation programs.
As a step towards the development of this visualized programming language, the design exemplar, system which inherently supports problem solving using the declarative design exemplar representation, is extended to support procedural processing of design data. This new feature in the design exemplar system extends the exemplar to support conditional branching and looping operations, which were identified as important for handling the data processing operations. The development of a compiler remains out of scope for this research and left for the future work.

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