The paper introduces the concept of an Interactive Evolutionary Design System (IEDS) that supports the engineering designer during the conceptual/preliminary stages of the design process. Requirement during these early stages relates primarily to design search and exploration across a poorly defined space as the designer's knowledge base concerning the problem area develops. Multiobjective satisfaction plays a major role, and objectives are likely to be ill-defined and their relative importance uncertain. Interactive evolutionary search and exploration provides information to the design team that contributes directly to their overall understanding of the problem domain in terms of relevant objectives, constraints, and variable ranges. This paper describes the development of certain elements within an interactive evolutionary conceptual design environment that allows off-line processing of such information leading to a redefinition of the design space. Such redefinition may refer to the inclusion or removal of objectives, changes concerning their relative importance, or the reduction of variable ranges as a better understanding of objective sensitivity is established. The emphasis, therefore, moves from a multiobjective optimization over a preset number of generations to a relatively continuous interactive evolutionary search that results in the optimal definition of both the variable and objective space relating to the design problem at hand. The paper describes those elements of the IEDS relating to such multiobjective information gathering and subsequent design space redefinition.

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