Interdisciplinary Engineering Knowledge Genome

Yoram Reich, Offer Shai (alphabetical order)

Motivation (Reich & Shai, 2014)

Parallel to the concept of the human genome and its impact on biology and other disciplines, we revealed a similar concept in engineering sciences, termed the ‘‘Interdisciplinary Engineering Knowledge Genome’’, which is an organized collection of system and method ‘‘genes’’ that encode instructions for generating new systems and methods in diverse engineering disciplines.

We anticipate that this concept will result in significant advancement to engineering practice and education.



דוקטורנט מצטיין (רצוי פנימי) בעל רקע בתורת הגרפים ותכנות לעבודה מאתגרת בגילוי אוטומטי של ידע הנדסי במסגרת פרויקט גנום הידע ההנדסי.

המחקר ממומן ע"י הקרן הלאומית למדעים החל מ- 2014 למשך 4 שנים.

עוד פרטים – פרופ' יורם רייך


Outstanding PhD candidate with background in graph theory and programming to work on automated discovery of engineering knowledge in the context of the Interdisciplinary Engineering Knowledge Genome (IEKG) Project.

The research is Funded by the Israeli Science Foundation starting 2014 for 4 years.

More information – Prof. Yoram Reich



Resting on the firm mathematical foundation of combinatorial representations, the Interdisciplinary Engineering Knowledge Genome unifies many engineering disciplines, providing a basis for transforming knowledge between them, supporting new educational practices, promoting inventions, aiding design, and bootstrapping new discoveries in engineering and science. Given the formal underlying combinatorial representations, these merits could be automated.


The IEKG encompasses many concepts similar to the HG concept. Among the key concepts are engineering knowledge genes that are the basic building blocks of the IEKG. We describe two types of genes: system genes and methods genes. Subsequently, we illustrate work to date that demonstrates the value of the concept.


The IEKG is related to infused design (ID; Shai and Reich 2004a, b). ID started as a method that rests on a solid mathematical foundation of combinatorial representations of systems that allows transferring solutions and methods between disciplines. In this context, combinatorial representations are graphs and matroids from discrete mathematics (Recski 1989; Shai 2001a, b). Their choice as a foundation of ID and consequently of IEKG is borne out of numerous studies showing how they can be used to translate knowledge between different domains as summarized in (Shai and Reich 2004a).

As the study of ID continued, it became clear that the body of knowledge it uses has special properties that deserve focused attention. The IEKG arose out of this observation. The IEKG is the body of knowledge about the combinatorial representation of systems and their intricate relations. The development of the IEKG would improve significantly the capabilities of ID as well as provide insight about disciplinary knowledge not necessarily related to ID. The IEKG could be viewed as static view of knowledge (i.e., ontology) while ID as the way to utilize this knowledge (i.e., praxis).


Some definitions

System genes are models of objects that are represented with formal abstract mathematical representations called combinatorial representations and are concise, useful, and efficient.

Method genes are useful methods operating on combinatorial representations.

The Interdisciplinary Engineering Knowledge Genome is the known set of system and method genes and the knowledge associated with these genes.

A system G represented by a combinatorial representation is an s-gene if it is a well-constrained graph and removing any set of vertices does not result in an s-gene.


More information could be found in (Reich & Shai, 2014) the other relevant references


Human Genome Project

Interdisciplinary Engineering Knowledge Genome



Linear arrangement of amino acids

System genes: arrangement of basic objects represented in discrete mathematics





Method genes:




Structure genes:















Infused Design


In the future, infused design will revolutionize design education:

1.         There will be a single theoretical course on Infused design and its mathematical foundation

2.         Many other courses would become applications courses (e.g., electrical circuits, mechanisms, structural mechanics)


Presentations (1-2 hours long):


1.         O. Shai and Y. Reich, “Infused design: A brief introduction,” in CD-ROM Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED), The Design Society, 2003.

2.         Shai and Y. Reich, “Infused design: I theory,” Research in Engineering Design, 15(2):93-107, 2004a.

3.         Shai and Y. Reich, “Infused design: II practice,” Research in Engineering Design, 15(2):108-121, 2004b.

4.         O, Shai, Y. Reich, and D. Rubin, “Infused creativity: An approach to creative system design,” Ambidextrous, Stanford’s Design School Magazine, Issue 1, Stanford, CA, 2005.

5.         O. Shai, Y. Reich, and D. Rubin, “Infused Creativity: An Approach to Creative System Design,” in Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology (DTM), (New York, NY), ASME, 2005.

6.         O. Shai, Y. Reich, and D. Rubin, “Creative conceptual design: extending the scope by infused design,” Computer-Aided Design, 41(3):117-135, 2009.

7.         O. Shai, Y. Reich, A. Hatchuel, E. Subrahmanian, Creativity theories and scientific discovery: a study of C-K Theory and Infused Design, International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED'09, Stanford, CA, 2009. Outstanding paper award. Extended version published as: O. Shai, Y. Reich, A. Hatchuel, E. Subrahmanian, Creativity and scientific discovery with Infused Design and its analysis with C-K theory, Research in Engineering Design, 24(2):201-214, 2013.

8.         O. Shai, Y. Reich, Inventing a new method in statics through knowledge in kinematics, Proceedings of the ASME 2009 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC/CIE, San Diego, CA 2009.

9.         Shai, O. Reich, Y., Understanding engineering systems through the engineering knowledge genome: structural genes of systems topologies, international Conference on Engineering Design, ICED'11, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2011.

10.     Y. Reich and O. Shai, The Interdisciplinary Engineering Knowledge Genome, Research in Engineering Design, 23(3):251-264, 2012.

Related references:

  1. Y. Reich, O. Shai, E. Subrahmanian, A. Hatchuel, P. Le Masson, “The interplay between design and mathematics: Introduction to bootstrapping effects,” Proceedings of the 9th Biennial ASME Conference on Engineering Systems Design and Analysis ESDA2008, Haifa, Israel, 2008.


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