Value-Driven Design, Semiotics and Compassion

Joseph A Goguen
Dept. Computer Science & Engineering
University of California, San Diego


It is difficult to design computer-based systems that satisfy users; failure is common, and even successful designs often overrun time and cost. This motivates user-centered design methods. But users often don't know what they need. This motivates ethnography and iterative design. But these are slower, more expensive, and still can fail. We claim that values are a key to solving many problems in the design of computer-based systems. Algebraic semiotics provides a rigorous notation and calculus of representation that supports specifying functionality, structure and values, while compassion supports both better analysis and better ethics in design. Together they constitute a significant move towards a practical, mathematics based engineering discipline of value-driven design. Several case studies are discussed.

  1. Introduction and Motivation
  2. Algebraic Semiotics
  3. Groundlessness and Coemergence
  4. Compassion, Ethics and Values
  5. Value-Driven Design
  6. Conclusions
  7. References