Analogical thinking: An introduction in the context of design


Analogical thinking is a core process of design thinking. This is because design is a cognitive activity (eg, Cross, 2004; Visser, 2006), and analogy is a core process of cognition (eg, Hofstadter, 2001; Thagard, 2005). Of course, design is a very wide-ranging and open-ended cognitive activity. For example, design typically is situated in and distributed over the physical world (eg, design materials), the information world (eg, design libraries) and the social–cultural worlds (eg, design teams). Yet, theories, techniques, and tools of analogical design (sometimes also called design by analogy) so far have been much more limited. If we look at the current theories of analogical design, they do not fully capture the range and variety, or the open-endedness and richness of design. Goel (1997) presents an early analysis of cross-domain analogical design, and Goel and Craw (2005) provide a more recent review of within-domain case-based design.
Thus, this Special Issue of AI EDAM on analogical thinking has three goals. First, it seeks to explore and use current theories of analogy to understand design as a cognitive activity. Second, it seeks to identify new problems in design for spurring the development of new theories and techniques of analogy. Third, it summarizes the current state of the art in analogical thinking in design and engineering at the end of 2014. The Special Issue contains seven highly refereed papers that represent a subset of all initial submissions. Each paper went through two rounds of reviewing and revision. After the first round, we culled all submissions down to nine papers and invited their authors to revise their papers. After the second round of reviewing, we further pruned the papers to just seven; we recommended the other two good papers for a regular issue of AI EDAM because they were not quite ready for this Special Issue. We also requested authors of the seven extant papers to significantly shorten their articles to fit into the Special Issue.
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