Secret Sauce

by Luke 19. October 2009 06:36

Sometimes when I describe this company to someone for the first time, they ask me for the secret ingredient that makes our work possible. I get the impression that they are expecting one big breakthrough that I can point to, but I don't think that's the way most innovation works. So I have to disappoint them a little with my answer.

Instead of a single big secret ingredient, I think of it as several small innovations mixed together into a secret sauce. The recipe for us needed just four main ingredients: 1) better knowledge representation tools, 2) better knowledge capture methods, 3) modern expert systems, and 4) modern computing power. The first two ingredients are about managing complexity and the second two ingredients give us the performance we need.

Engineering problems have a key property that helps us manage complexity: many kinds of engineering decisions are not ambiguous. They can often be represented mathematically and that makes the job of teaching the computer to handle it much easier. But even simple engineering tasks can consist of dozens or hundreds of decisions that link together to make a solution and finish the work. The network of decisions on information creates complexity and that has always been one of the most difficult challenge for systems such as ours. We've created tools to manage the information complexity for our engineering domains and we've learned how to help human engineers teach computers what they know.

As for performance, much of that depends on how well we manage complexity and find ways to break large problems into smaller ones. Being able to run modern expert systems in parallel and over a network gives us the raw computing power we need to tackle many small problems at once. With good computation performance and a handle on complexity, we have the main tools we need to build automated engineering systems.

Mindviews Labs Blog

Sharing about the future of automated engineering.