Automation in design: The conceptual synthesis of chemical processing schemes

Chonghun Han, George Stephanopoulos, James M. Douglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This chapter shows how one can use ideas and techniques from artificial intelligence, such as symbolic modeling, knowledge-based systems, and logic, to construct a computer-implemented model of the design process. By using the Douglas hierarchical approach as the conceptual model of the design process itself, the chapter shows how to generate models of the structure of design tasks, design decisions, and the state of design, thus leading to automation of large segments of the synthesis of chemical processing schemes. The result is a human-aided, machine-based design paradigm, with the computer “knowing” how the design is done, what the scope of design is, and how to provide explanations and the rationale for the design decisions and the resulting final design. The chapter argues that the human-aided, machine-based design is the paradigm that will characterize future design systems, where rapid conceptualization and prototyping of engineering artifacts are the source of competitive edge. The chapter further provides a formalized restatement of the hierarchical procedure, in an effort to cast it more closely to a computational process for its computer-based automation. The structure of a conceptual model that can be used to represent a design methodology has been discussed but the value of this model rests with the effectiveness of the representation schemes that one employs to describe the declarative and procedural components of the model in a way that the computer can “understand.” It has been emphasized that hierarchical design language is a formal framework for the development of the computational process that emulates the Douglas methodology for conceptual process design and its specific characteristics have been discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-146
Number of pages54
JournalAdvances in Chemical Engineering
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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