Collecting the Dots

There is little debate that Steve Jobs was one of the greatest innovators of our time. His curiosity and creativity are benchmarks for both individuals and companies. One of my favorite Jobs quotes appeared in Wired, February 1996:

Connecing the Dots“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”“Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

Steve Jobs was not referring to mathematical optimization when he made these statements, but it would be difficult to find better words than these to motivate people to use a global optimization search process. Let me explain why. Continue reading

How Much Is Enough?

When it comes to money, people have different perspectives about how much it takes to be satisfied or feel rich. According to oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, the answer is “just a little bit more.”

How Much Is EnoughIn multi-disciplinary design optimization (MDO), a similar question comes up: “how many design evaluations are needed to converge on the optimal solution?” Unfortunately, as with money, there is no universal answer. The number of evaluations required depends on the problem you are trying to solve, your approach to solving it, and the starting point for the solution. Let’s unpack this a bit. Continue reading