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Identifying component modules

Whitfield, R.I. and Smith, J.S. and Duffy, A.H.B. (2002) Identifying component modules. In: 7th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Design, 2002-07-12 - 2002-07-17.

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A computer-based system for modelling component dependencies and identifying component modules is presented. A variation of the Dependency Structure Matrix (DSM) representation was used to model component dependencies. The system utilises a two-stage approach towards facilitating the identification of a hierarchical modular structure. The first stage calculates a value for a clustering criterion that may be used to group component dependencies together. A Genetic Algorithm is described to optimise the order of the components within the DSM with the focus of minimising the value of the clustering criterion to identify the most significant component groupings (modules) within the product structure. The second stage utilises a 'Module Strength Indicator' (MSI) function to determine a value representative of the degree of modularity of the component groupings. The application of this function to the DSM produces a 'Module Structure Matrix' (MSM)depicting the relative modularity of available component groupings within it. The approach enabled the identification of hierarchical modularity in the product structure without the requirement for any additional domain specific knowledge within the system. The system supports design by providing mechanisms to explicitly represent and utilise component and dependency knowledge to facilitate the nontrivial task of determining near-optimal component modules and representing product modularity.