Imprecision in Engineering Design

Manuscript prepared for submission to the 1995 ASME Journal of Mechanical Design

Erik K. Antonsson
Engineering Design Research Laboratory
Division of Engineering and Applied Science
California Institute of Technology

Kevin N. Otto
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Methods for incorporating imprecision in engineering design decision-making are briefly reviewed and compared. A tutorial is presented on the Method of Imprecision (MoI), a formal method, based on the mathematics of fuzzy sets, for representing and manipulating imprecision in engineering design. The results of a design cost estimation example, utilizing a new informal cost specification, are presented. The MoI can provide formal information upon which to base decisions during preliminary engineering design and can facilitate set-based concurrent design.