This paper presents an optimization ontology and its implementation into a prototype computational knowledge-based tool dubbed ONTOP (ontology for optimization). Salient feature of ONTOP include a knowledge base that incorporates both standardized optimization terminology, formal method definitions, and often unrecorded optimization details, such as any idealizations and assumptions that may be made when creating an optimization model, as well as the model developer’s rationale and justification behind these idealizations and assumptions. ONTOP was developed using Protégé, a Java-based, free open-source ontology development environment created by Stanford University. Two engineering design optimization case studies are presented. The first case study consists of the optimization of a structural beam element and demonstrates ONTOP’s ability to address the variations in an optimal solution that may arise when different techniques and approaches are used. A second case study, a more complex design problem that deals with the optimization of an impeller of a pediatric left ventricular heart assist device, demonstrates the wealth of knowledge ONTOP is able to capture. Together, these test beds help illustrate the potential value of an ontology in representing application-specific knowledge while facilitating both the sharing and exchanging of this knowledge in engineering design optimization.

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