How Designs Differ: Non-Linear Embeddings Illuminate Intrinsic Design Complexity

Wei Chen, Jonah Chazan, and Mark Fuge, Proceedings of the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences (2016).


This paper shows how to measure the complexity and reduce the dimensionality of a geometric design space. It assumes that high-dimensional design parameters actually lie in a much lower-dimensional space that represents semantic attributes. Past work has shown how to embed designs using techniques like autoencoders; in contrast, this paper quantifies when and how various embeddings are better than others. It captures the intrinsic dimensionality of a design space, the performance of recreating new designs for an embedding, and the preservation of topology of the original design space. We demonstrate this with both synthetic superformula shapes of varying non-linearity and real glassware designs. We evaluate multiple embeddings by measuring shape reconstruction error, topology preservation, and required semantic space dimensionality. Our work generates fundamental knowledge about the inherent complexity of a design space and how designs differ from one another. This deepens our understanding of design complexity in general.

BibTeX Citation

  title={How Designs Differ: Non-Linear Embeddings Illuminate Intrinsic Design Complexity},
  author={Chen, Wei and Chazan, Jonah and Fuge, Mark},
  booktitle={ASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference},
  month = {August},
  location = {Charlotte, USA},
  organization={American Society of Mechanical Engineers},