Derivation and Use of Design Rationale Information as Expressed by Designers

Reference: Gruber, T. & Russell, D. M. Derivation and Use of Design Rationale Information as Expressed by Designers. Knowledge Systems Laboratory, July, 1992.

Abstract: A design rationale is an explanation of why something is designed as it is. In this paper we analyze the sources of knowledge and inference underlying design rationale. We examine protocols of people talking about designs in several domains to identify kinds of design information that are requested and used. We classify the information types along dimensions including the source of the information, how the information is or could be captured, and whether it is retrieved or inferred. We find that the sources of knowledge used to explain a design are manifold, including models of the artifact and how it works, models of design methods and decision making processes, and understanding of the intended functionality and other requirements. We observe that design rationale explanations are often constructed from several of these sources, supported by activities such as information retrieval, simulation, hypothesis testing, and decision making.

Full paper available as hqx, ps.

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