Configuration is a process of generating a definitive description of a product that satisfies a set of specified requirements and known constraints. Knowledge-based technology is an important factor in automation of configuration tasks found in mechanical design. In this paper, we describe a configuration technique that is well suited for configuring “decomposable” artifacts with reasonably well defined structure and constraints. This technique may be classified as a member of a general class of decompositional approaches to configuration. The domain knowledge is structured as a general model of the artifact, an and-or hierarchy of the artifact’s elements, features, and characteristics. The model includes constraints and local specialists which are attached to the elements of the and-or tree. Given the specific configuration requirements, the problem solving engine searches for a solution, a subtree, that satisfies the requirements and the applicable constraints. We describe an application of this approach that performs configuration and design of an automotive component.

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