Simulating Product Invention Using InventSim

Simulating Product Invention Using InventSim

A. Brabazon (Bielefeld University, Germany), A. Silva (Instituto Politecnico de Castelo Branco, Portugal), T. F.S. Sousa (Kingston University, UK), R. Matthews (University College Dublin, Ireland) and M. O’Neill (Centro de Informatica e Sistemas da Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-984-7.ch026
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This chapter describes a novel simulation model (InventSim) of the process of product invention. Invention is conceptualized as a process of directed search on a landscape of product design possibilities, by a population of profit-seeking inventors. The simulator embeds a number of real-world search heuristics of inventors, including anchoring, election, thought experiments, fitness sharing, imitation, and trial and error. A series of simulation experiments are undertaken to examine the sensitivity of the populational rate of advance in product sophistication to changes in the choice of search heuristics employed by inventors. The key finding of the experiments is that if search heuristics are confined to those that are rooted in past experience, or to heuristics that merely generate variety, limited product advance occurs. Notable advance occurs only when inventors’ expectations of the relative payoffs for potential product inventions are incorporated into the model of invention. The results demonstrate the importance of human direction and expectations in invention. They also support the importance of formal product/project evaluation procedures in organizations, and the importance of market information when inventing new products.

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