Computers are being used extensively in the manufacturing industry to design and analyze products. In spite of the power of existing CAD systems and potential power of current Design Automation systems, we believe that they possess an inherent limitation that keeps them from aligning with and fully supporting the design process. Specifically, all of these systems are based on using parametric operators to generate valid designs. This paper examines the limitations of parametric operators for CAD and design automation and shows how “variational” methods could be used. An approach using variational methods is compared with traditional CAD and design automation methods. The paper also proposes a language of objects and relationships to represent design requirements. This work is a step towards realizing an interactive design synthesis system that can represent and satisfy design requirements.

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