Multifunctionality In Biologically Inspired Design

Ashok Goel
William Hancock, Keith Frazer, Christain Tuchez

Biological systems, in general, are multi-functional and environmentally sustainable.

Thus, a biologically inspired design is posited as leading to multi-functional and environmentally

sustainable designs. Design, in general, is characterized as a problem-driven process. However,

a biologically inspired design also entails the twin process of solution-based design. Previous work

has postulated that the solution-based design process is prone to design fixation but leads to more

multifunctional designs. Design Study Library (DSL) is a digital library of eighty-three cases of

biologically inspired design. We present a preliminary analysis of the DSL case studies to examine

two hypotheses. (1) The process of solution-based design results in more multifunctional designs

than the problem-driven design process. (2) The process of solution-based design is more prone to

fixation than the problem-driven design process. We find strong evidence in favor of the first


Ashok Goel
Ashok Goel, Keith McGreggor, Spencer Rugaber
Tesca Fitzgerald, David Joyner, Rochelle Lobo, Bryan Wiltgen, Gongbo Zhang

The Design & Intelligence Laboratory conducts research into human-centered artificial intelligence and computational cognitive science, with a focus on computational creativity. Current projects explore analogical reasoning in biologically inspired design, visual reasoning on intelligence tests, meta-reasoning in game-playing software agents, and learning about ecological and biological systems in science education.