Research Area: Ontologies in Designing


Ontologies provide a domain with a structure for the knowledge in that domain. Domains without ontologies are constantly inventing new terms for existing knowledge and find it difficult to develop foundations on which others can build. Designing has been a domain like that. The development of the Function–Behavior–Structure (FBS) ontology has provided one robust ontology that has been applicable to both designs (the results of designing) and designing (the process of designing). References to this FBS ontology can be found in research papers in the fields of: architecture, business, civil engineering, cognitive psychology, concurrent design, design research, learning, manufacturing, mechanicial engineering, parametric design, product development, product models, and software engineering.

Projects include:
  • situated FBS ontologies
  • ontologies for situated agents
  • ontologies of teams
  • ontologies in interoperability
  • ontologies of processes
  • ontology for computer-aided design
  • ontology for situated design optimization
  • ontologies and creativity




The two foundational papers are:

  • Gero, JS (1990) Design prototypes: a knowledge representation schema for design, AI Magazine 11(4): 26-36. (pdf)
  • Gero, JS and Kannengiesser, U (2004) The situated Function-Behaviour-Structure framework, Design Studies 25(4): 373-391. (pdf)

Papers that describe the research in more detail:

  • Gero, JS and Kannengiesser, U (2004) Modelling expertise of temporary design teams, Journal of Design Research 4(3): (pdf)
  • Gero, JS and Kannengiesser, U (2007) An ontology of situated design teams, AIEDAM 21(4): 379-391. (pdf)
  • Gero, JS and Kannengiesser, U (2007) A Function-Behaviour-Structure ontology of processes, AIEDAM 21(3): 295-308. (pdf)
  • Gero, JS and Kannengiesser, U (2014) The Function-Behaviour-Structure ontology of design, in Amaresh Chakrabarti and Lucienne Blessing (eds), An Anthology of Theories and Models of Design, Springer, pp. 263-283.(pdf)
  • Gero, JS, Tham, KW. and Lee, HS (1991) Behaviour: a link between function and structure in design, in DC Brown, H Yoshikawa and M Waldron (eds), IntCAD'91 Preprints, IFIP, Ohio, pp. 201-230.
  • Qian, L and Gero, JS (1996) Function-behaviour-structure paths and their role in analogy-based design, AIEDAM 10:289-312.
  • Tham, KW and Gero, JS (1992) PROBER-A design system based on design prototypes, in JS Gero (ed), Artificial Intelligence in Design '92, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 657-676.

For the rest you can scour my publications starting with those In Progress.


The people who have or are working with me on this include:

  • Bala Balachandran
  • Jeff Kan
  • Udo Kannengiesser
  • HyunSoo Lee
  • Lena Qian
  • Michael Rosenman
  • Kwai-Wok Tham