SOS - Subjective objective system for generating optimal product concepts

Amir Ziv-Av, Yoram Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concept design is the most critical step in product development. To a large extent, its quality determines the fate of the product. Support for concept generation is mainly intuitive. In this paper, we review and exemplify the importance of quality product concepts and the available literature on concept generation. Subsequently, we present a method - subjective objective system (SOS) - for generating optimal concepts in diverse disciplines. The method rests on four mathematical metaphors: it is composed of objective and subjective components, it allows varying degrees of precision in modeling, it works by decomposing a complex problem into smaller sub-problems, and it uses highly simplified evaluations. SOS not only structures the decision process but also outputs the optimal concept given the customer objectives, the company context, and the available constraints. This solution is obtained by quadratic programming that allows the method to handle very large problems and solve them in negligible time. SOS has been developed over years of practical experience and research, and has been used in numerous successful real projects. We illustrate the use of the method in a real project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-533
Number of pages25
JournalDesign Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Conceptual design
  • Design practice
  • Design tools
  • Product configuration
  • Research methods


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