Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering


Summers, Joshua D

Committee Member

Mocko , Gregory

Committee Member

Mears , Laine


This thesis introduces a taxonomy of physical prototypes, and validates the proposed taxonomy by five different approaches. The proposed taxonomy is validated by, (i) checking the orthogonality of individual elements of the taxonomy, (ii) benchmarking the taxonomy with existing classifications of prototypes, (iii) demonstrating its utility by applying it to classify different prototypes, (iv) building a prototype database containing 35 different prototypes, and (v) consistency evaluation of the prototype database using a description logic based software called ProtŽgŽ.
The results indicate that the proposed taxonomy is capable of distinguishing prototypes with greater accuracy when compared to existing classifications. The orthogonality of the proposed taxonomy is satisfactory, allowing for more consistent delineation between prototypes. Furthermore, the utility of the taxonomy to classify prototypes, and the building of prototype database demonstrates the flexibility of the proposed taxonomy to classify wide gamut of prototypes.
Implementation of prototype database into Description Logic (DL) based ontology revealed the definitions for each prototype class is consistent. This demonstrates the ability of the proposed taxonomy to differentiate distinct prototypes. In addition to the consistency evaluation, ProtŽgŽ is used to generate the automatic class hierarchy of 35 prototypes, which classifies prototypes based on user defined classes. Finally, the DL implementation of the proposed taxonomy and the prototype database provides scope for future research to develop design tools that can aid designers in identifying prototypes necessary for a specific design scenario.