Automatically inferring technology compatibility with an ontology and graph rewriting rules

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In conceptual design of any engineering system, decisions are made regarding which technologies to include and where. One of the first stages of that process is constructing the technology compatibility matrix (TCM), which indicates the compatibility of each pair in a technology set. Rather than constructing a TCM with expert judgment, this study develops a method based on graph transformation rules, allowing for a formal description of technologies. The TCM is then automatically derived. An ontology based on the Basic Formal Ontology is developed to describe systems and technologies, and provides axioms to derive statements about these descriptions. The method is demonstrated with four inference examples, showing how the inferences are made. An industry case study demonstrates the method's ability to mimic human expert reasoning. Although the approach is labour-intensive during setup, it enables knowledge capturing, automated reasoning and can be extended to provide quantitative analysis, to save time and effort.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Engineering Design
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • graph transformation
  • Ontology
  • technology compatibility matrix
  • technology selection

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