Journal Article

Extensions to the Design Structure Matrix for the Description of Multidisciplinary Design, Analysis, and Optimization Processes


A. B. Lambe, and J. R. R. A. Martins


Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, 46(2):273–284, 2012



While numerous architectures exist for solving multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) problems, there is currently no standard way of describing these architectures. In particular, a standard visual representation of the solution process would be particularly useful as a communication medium among practitioners and those new to the field. This paper presents the extended design structure matrix (XDSM), a new diagram for visualizing MDO processes. The diagram is based on extending the standard design structure matrix (DSM) to simultaneously show data dependency and process flow on a single diagram. Modifications include adding special components to define iterative processes, defining different line styles to show data and process connections independently, and adding a numbering scheme to define the order in which the components are executed. This paper describes the rules for constructing XDSMs along with many examples, including diagrams of several MDO archi-tectures. Finally, this paper discusses potential applications of the XDSM in other areas of MDO and the future development of the diagrams.