A useful way to generate solutions to engineering design problems is to compare the solutions of design problems similar to the one at hand and validate the solutions to satisfy the new design requirements. This process involves evaluating the similarity between the design problem at hand and the various design problems in the repository. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the meaning and the use of similarity in engineering design. Various similarity theories in literature have been explored. Previous applications of these theories are limited to the retrieval of similar computer-aided design models and process plans. This paper extends the applications of these theories to the various stages of the design process.

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