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morphological analysis
Structural Synthesis Design
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"When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better."
(Ockham, Ockam, Occam; 1285—1349


Welcome to Okkam, the innovations venture for Science, Technology and Innovation in the Movement Research and Development!

Our Vision 
Okkam will be an internationally recognized centre of research and innovation excellence and a significant force in the structure synthesys technology.

Our Mission
We catalyze partnerships in Hi-Tech innovations for engineering Systems.
Our mission is to conduct state-of-the-art research and development on innovations and products, with high-level academic and professional level and technological development.

Okkam research includes:



Morphological approach with "Okkam" for innovative Engineering Systems (ES)

Links --> Rakov, D., .Timoshina A. (2010): Structure synthesis of prospective technical systems. IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine. - : Feb. 2010. - Volume: 25 -Issue: 2. 4 - 10.

Publications (s. --> most important publicationd )

One of the key stages in aircraft engineering systems process is the conceptual design phase. Conceptual design is considered to be the most difficult phase of engineering design, with success dependent to a great extent on the expertise of a designer. Automation of some aspects of this phase would be of immense practical benefit [1]. During this phase, the designer must devise an initial design that incorporates ‘‘working principles’’ or physical solutions to all the ‘‘essential’’ features of the problem, and which has been evaluated to be acceptable and feasible [2]. This is the phase of the design process ‘‘that makes the greatest demands on the designer, and where there is the most scope for striking improvements and where the most important decisions are taken’’ [3].

Conceptual design is a fundamental and indispensable forerunner to further detailed design. Not only is it well known that a design concept is the overwhelming factor influencing the product life-cycle cost and level of innovation; but an excellent detailed design based upon a poor and inappropriate concept can never compensate for the inadequacy of that concept.

Conceptual design is an early phase in the design process, which involves the generation of solution concepts to satisfy the functional requirements of a design problem. There can be more than one solution to a problem; this means that there is scope for producing improved designs if one could explore a solution space larger than is possible at present [4].

As shown in Fig. 1, design uncertainty is the largest for entirely original designs and decreases during design [5].

The project costs are minimal on a conceptual design stage, but importance of accepted solutions is maximal. Therefore the conceptual design is the basic phase of design process (Fig.2).

For creation of competitive and innovative products it is typically necessary to synthesize from 50 up to 150 new engineering solutions. [6]. In [7] 3 levels of optimization are examined at creation of new ES. Performance characteristics of projected systems at the third level of optimization can be improved on the average of 10-15% (Fig. 3). At level 1 and 2 characteristics are improved on the average of 30-35 %, and sometimes more. The higher the level of optimization, the more is the effect of optimization. In engineering practice there is usually no way allowing the choice of an optimum engineering solution based on conditions of the technical project at once.

Subject of search in structural synthesis is achievement of some compromise levels for lines of inconsistent criteria. The sequence of computing operations for finding of an optimum algorithm for the design calculation is displayed by an objective function. This function does not correspond to the basic requirements of theoretical methods of optimization (including genetic algorithms).

The objective function is discontinuous, exists in operator notation, it is not based on analytic forms, is not differentiable, not unimodal, not separable and also not additive. It is impossible to model analytically a hyper surface of objective functions and to predict their change on an increment of variables. Instead of step-by-step promotion in space of attributes area-scanning searches with use of clusters seem to be more efficient.

For the problems decision of structural synthesis there are two groups of methods - morphological and heuristic. Heuristic approaches yield unstable results and are subjective.

Morphological analysis is a method developed by F. Zwicky for exploring all the possible solutions to a multi-dimensional, non-quantified problem complex [8]. Zwicky applied this method to such diverse tasks as the classification of astrophysical objects and the development of jet and rocket propulsion systems. More recently, morphological analysis has been extended and applied by a number of researchers in the U.S.A and Europe in the field of future studies, engineering system analysis and strategy modeling [Odrin, 1998; Coyle et al., 1994; Rhyne 1995; Ritchey 1997, 2003, 2006; Stenstroem & Ritchey 1999; Akimov, 2005]. The morphological approach serves as a standard when new systems are being designed [9,10].

The basic problem of morphological methods is the so-called “damnation of dimension”, which means, that rapid generation of an enormous set of variants is relatively simple, but selection of the best variants is very difficult [11].

The disadvantages of morphological methods are as follows:

· Labor-intensive selection from a set of variants and

· Impossibility of search and analysis of all variants.

To remove the aforementioned disadvantages a methodology of the structural synthesis of engineering systems (SSES), based on the system, morphological, and cluster approach has been developed.

Using the methodology, different engineering systems, mostly in the area of Aeronautics, Astronautics, and Ecology, have been studied [12,13,14] (Fig.4). Fields of generated variants for Reentry vehicles [15,16] (Fig.5) is given below.

Figure 4: Areas of the SSES application

Figure 5: Solution field of the advanced reentry vehicles (2004)

[1] S. Potter, S.J. Culley, M.J. Darlington, P. K. Chawdhry: Automatic conceptual design using experience-derived heuristics. Research in Engineering Design. Volume 14, Number 3. Springer, London. 2003. P.131-144.
[2] G. Pahl, W. Beitz: Engineering design – a systematic approach. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, 2nd edn. 1996.
[3] M. French: Conceptual design for engineers. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, 2nd edn. 1985.
[4] Chakrabarti and T. P. Bligh: An Approach to Functional Synthesis of Solutions in Mechanical Conceptual Design. Part I: Introduction and Knowledge Representation Engineering Design Centre. UK Research in Engineering Design. Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge. P. 127-141. 1994.
[5] P. Fitch, J. S. Cooper: Life-cycle modeling for adaptive and variant design. Part 1: Methodology Research in Engineering Design. P. 216–228. 2005.
[6] Golubev, A. Samarin: Aircraft design. Moscow, Machinistroenie, 1991.
[7] A. Polovinkin: Algorithms of design solutions optimization – Energy. Moscow. 1976.
[8] F. Zwicky: Discovery, Invention, Research through the Morphological Approach. McMillan. New York. 1969.
[9] VDI 2222:Methodic development of solution principles. / Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, 1997.
[10] VDI 2221: Systematic approach to the development and design of technical systems and products,/ Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, 1993.
[11] D. Rakov: Morphological Synthesis Method of the Search for Promising Technical Systems. IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems magazine, N12, P. 3-8. Seattle, 1996.
[12] D. Rakov: Structural Synthesis und Analysis for innovative engineering systems. 29. International symposium IGIP-2000 „Unique and Excellent“, Leuchtturm-Verlag, HTA Biel-Bienne, Switzerland. P. 388 - 395. 2000.
[13] D. Rakov: Super Light Reentry Vehicles. Space Technology Oxford. Special Issue on “Advanced Reentry Vehicles”. ST2428, Volume 24. Part 4. P.237-243. 2005.
[14] D. Rakov, J. Thorbeck: High Sound Proofing Ability of Porous Materials under Stress Using 4S Technology. First CEAS European Air and Space Conference "Century Perspectives", Paper Nr. CEAS-2007-469, Berlin, S. 849 - 852. September 2007.
[15] D. Rakov: Super Light Reentry Vehicles. Space Technology Oxford. Special Issue on “Advanced Reentry Vehicles”. ST2428, Volume 24, Part 4. P.237-243. 2005.
[16] D. Rakov, A.Timoshina. Structure synthesis of prospective technical systems // IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine. - : Feb. 2010. - Volume: 25 -Issue: 2. - P. 4 - 10


The structural synthesis is a powerful means of research in various fields of knowledge. The offered procedure of the synthesis ES is a development of the morphological methods and can be applied to solve the problems of 2 level of optimization and partly to solve the problems of the first level. The method allows:

  • To generate effectively the morphological array and by means of a measure of similarity to carry out the clusterization and to choose the best alternatives.
  • To solve the inverse problems - to carry out the search of more effective engineering solutions by the given variant.
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