This article presents a framework for the representation of uncertainty in the early design of complex adaptive products such as automobiles. The core of the framework is an object-oriented approach in which design objects and their inter-relationships may be modeled, and in which both the design attributes and the product structure may be uncertain. Relationship objects allow product variants and design alternatives to be represented. In addition to the design model, derivation methods for design attributes may be modeled, and methods may be incorporated to allow the deterministic or probabilistic computation of attributes. The modeling framework is the basis of a risk modeling tool, RiTo, in which Monte Carlo simulation is used to compute estimates for costs and other design attributes together with their probability of achievement in the final design. Uncertainties may be aggregated and levels of uncertainty in different parts of the model may be continually analysed and assessed. The framework also provides a mechanism for accumulating product knowledge, in particular knowledge concerning relationships between elements of part and assembly models, product volumes and manufacturing considerations.
Crossland, R., Williams, J. H. S., & McMahon, C. A. (2003). An object-oriented modeling framework for representing uncertainty in early variant design. Research in Engineering Design, 14(3), 173-183. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00163-003-0039-z