A Systematic Process for Adaptive Concept Exploration

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Nixon, Janel Nicole
Mavris, Dimitri N.
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This thesis presents a method for streamlining the process of obtaining and interpreting quantitative data for the purpose of creating a low-fidelity modeling and simulation environment. By providing a more efficient means for obtaining such information, quantitative analyses become much more practical for decision-making in the very early stages of design, where traditionally, quants are viewed as too expensive and cumbersome for concept evaluation. The method developed to address this need uses a Systematic Process for Adaptive Concept Exploration (SPACE). In the SPACE method, design space exploration occurs in a sequential fashion; as data is acquired, the sampling scheme adapts to the specific problem at hand. Previously gathered data is used to make inferences about the nature of the problem so that future samples can be taken from the more interesting portions of the design space. Furthermore, the SPACE method identifies those analyses that have significant impacts on the relationships being modeled, so that effort can be focused on acquiring only the most pertinent information. The results show that the combination of a tailored data set, and an informed model structure work together to provide a meaningful quantitative representation of the system while relying on only a small amount of resources to generate that information. In comparison to more traditional modeling and simulation approaches, the SPACE method provides a more accurate representation of the system using fewer resources to generate that representation. For this reason, the SPACE method acts as an enabler for decision making in the very early design stages, where the desire is to base design decisions on quantitative information while not wasting valuable resources obtaining unnecessary high fidelity information about all the candidate solutions. Thus, the approach enables concept selection to be based on parametric, quantitative data so that informed, unbiased decisions can be made.
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