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Naval Design, Knowledge-Based Complexity, and Emergent Design Failures

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Emergent rework, inability to integrate, and unexpected difficulty frequently impact naval ship design. These outcomes are not failures of a product, they are failures in learning and decision-making caused by the complexity of the naval design activity. Design approaches, processes, methods, and tools attempt to manage this complexity, but no methods exist to address it directly. To address the root-cause of design failures, new capabilities are needed to understand the knowledge-based system that drives them. This paper moves towards that capability by proposing to model design as a knowledge-based complex system. Naval design examples are used to explain how complex behaviors arise in this system and how understanding their emergence can explain the causes of unexpected design failures. The paper concludes with a discussion of how current practices can be improved and the future work required to make that improvement.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • The Naval Engineers Journal is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE). ASNE is the leading professional engineering society for engineers, scientists and allied professionals who conceive, design, develop, test, construct, outfit, operate and maintain complex naval and maritime ships, submarines and aircraft and their associated systems and subsystems.
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