SOS - Subjective Objective System for Optimal Concept Generation

HSOS – Hierarchical SOS



1.       Introduction

2.       Potential applications

3.       Related workshops

4.       Related presentations

5.       Seeking collaboration

6.       Publication


Concept design is the most critical step in product development. To a large extent, its quality determines the fate of the product. Support for concept generation is mainly intuitive.

SOS (subjective objective system) is a method that remedies this situation. It is a simple yet powerful method for generating optimal concepts in diverse disciplines.


The method rests on four mathematical metaphors:

1.       it is composed of an objective and subjective components (somewhat similar to the solution for differential equations),

2.       it allows varying degrees of precision in modeling,

3.       it works by decomposing a complex problem into smaller sub-problems, and

4.       it uses highly simplified evaluations.


SOS also reminds aspects of QFD but is quite different from it. It not only structures the decision process but also outputs the optimal concept given the customer objectives, the company context, and the available constraints. Furthermore, SOS allows exploring the design problem formulation, the solution space, and address various “what if” questions.


Some properties of SOS:

1.       SOS can handle very large problems and solve them in negligible time.

2.       SOS is general; it can create concepts in consumer products, medical treatment, service related products, and others.

3.       SOS has been evolved and refined over years of practical experience and research.

4.       The present version has been used in numerous successful real projects at Ziv-Av Engineering LTD.



Potential applications of SOS:

  • Products (consumer, industrial, and the like)
  • Software
  • Services
  • Medical treatments
  • Intellectual capital decisions



Related Workshops for Industry:

  • Product concept innovation
  • Robust product concept generation
  • Knowledge management for distributed R&D organizations


Related Presentations (1-2 hours long):

  • Product concept innovation: off the shelf and out of the box


Seeking Collaboration

We are seeking collaboration with people interested in configuring diverse products:

1.       Medical treatment as a product

2.       Service (e.g., banking) as a product

3.       Software products

4.       multidisciplinary products (e.g., hardware+software, MEMS)


We are also seeking collaboration with parties interested in the following properties of product concepts or configurations:

1.       Products expressed at multiple levels of details (hierarchical description)

2.       Products that evolve over time

3.       Families of products

4.       Robust product concepts




1.       Y. Reich and A. Ziv-Av, “A comprehensive optimal product concept generation framework,” in Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology (DTM), (New York, NY), ASME, 2003.

2.       A. Ziv-Av and Y. Reich, “A comprehensive optimal product concept generation framework,” in CD-ROM Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED), The Design Society, 2003.

3.       A. Ziv-Av and Y. Reich, “SOS – Subjective objective system for generating optimal product concepts Design Studies, 26(5): 509-533, 2005.

4.       Y. Reich and A. Ziv-Av, “Robust product concept generationProceedings of the 15th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED), The Design Society, 2005.

5.       D. Rosenstein, and Y. Reich, Hierarchical Concept Generation by SOS, International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED'11, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2011.

6.       J. Shabi and Y. Reich, Developing an analytical model for planning the verification, validation & testing process, Advanced Engineering Informatics, 2012. [Employs a variation of SOS.]



Copyright © 2005-2012 Yoram Reich
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Last modified: 07-Feb-12 4:44:00 PM