Object-Oriented Software Representation of Polymer Materials Information in Engineering Design

Ogden, Sean Paul (1999). Object-Oriented Software Representation of Polymer Materials Information in Engineering Design. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00010225


The software application POISE, Polymer Objects in a Smalltalk™ Environment, integrates knowledge representation, user interfaces, and data management; a system of tools for the materials domain expert involved in design. Engineering design solutions initially build from generalisations. POISE represents multiple levels of generalisations from classifications of polymer information.

The class-instance paradigm classifies software objects. An object’s behaviour is an exclusive function of its class. Polymer’s behaviours are a function of multiple orthogonal factors, like chemistry and processing, therefore multiple orthogonal classes must represent polymers. Taxonomy only represents one of these factors. The Enhancer mechanism resolves this conflict between classification and representation.

Polymer classification is not well established, with new materials evolving. The software compensates by evolving the classification schema. Guided with a specialised interface tool, the domain expert updates the schema by adding new polymer families and re-classifying existing classes. Through analysing the generalisations in the classification, the domain expert can develop an appropriate classification. This analysis relies on the engineering properties differentiating the principal material qualities. Standard properties do not distinguish specific structural differences in polymer materials, necessitating new

Material properties distinguish materials in the domain whereas the classes describe the properties of polymer objects. Domain experts add new properties to the polymer classes to distinguish polymer objects. Properties are independent objects that partially describe the class template; Partial Template Objects.

Persistence of personal design information and management of shared data requires dichotomous database management. Shared data requires multi-user access, and consequently transaction management. Transaction management in object-oriented systems often holds resources for a long duration. Transaction declaration hinders transparent access to storage, and corrupts the representation. For single-user design information, transactions are implicit with access. Database proxies provide transparent per-object transaction management to persistent design information. The WorkBase is an object-storage utility that utilises Enhancers as proxies.

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