Combining quantitative and qualitative aspects of problem structuring in computational morphological analysis

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Title: Combining quantitative and qualitative aspects of problem structuring in computational morphological analysis
Authors: Garvey, Bruce
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: Morphological Analysis (MA) is a problem-structuring method that defines a problem as a set of key parameters, especially under conditions of uncertainty and complexity. Each parameter is broken down into a set of discrete states or dimensions, being qualitative or quantitative in nature. The scale of the problem is represented as a product of all the selected parameters and their individual states expressed as a total number of configurations. This is the problem space. Configurations where each state within a parameter is deemed consistent with every other state across the other parameters are identified and isolated. This is called the solution space. MA’s uptake has been patchy, and latterly overlooked mainly due to the user experience being compromised by three interrelated factors: poor access to support software which can address the combinatorial explosion generated by multi-parameter problem spaces inherent in the use of MA; insufficiently flexible processes that address users’ operational constraints; seen to be overly generic, disguising identification of specific application areas of interest. The main research aim in this thesis is to address these constraints. Action Research was used to develop a viable prototype, and beyond, making the product robust enough for commercially viability. The prototype combined algorithms and internal databases with cross-platform accessibility – an innovation complemented by improved processes to enhance user friendliness whilst maintaining methodological integrity. New research areas, including the latest incarnation of MA, are presented with particular emphasis in the areas of ideation, technological creativity and innovation. A company has been established to exploit the technology, with NATO purchasing a licence. With a paucity of in-depth literature on the method combined with little evidence of demonstrable outcomes the thesis is one of a handful of dedicated publications in the last 40 years thus providing a major contribution to the understanding of “Zwickian” Morphological Analysis.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: May-2016
Date Awarded: Nov-2016
Supervisor: Childs, Peter
Department: Dyson School of Design Engineering
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Design Engineering PhD theses

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