With the advent of the big-data era, massive textual information stored in electronic and digital documents have become valuable resources for knowledge discovery in the fields of design and engineering. Ontology technologies and semantic networks have been widely applied with text mining techniques including Natural Language Processing (NLP) to extract structured knowledge associations from the large-scale unstructured textual data. However, most existing works mainly focus on how to construct the semantic networks by developing various text mining methods such as statistical approaches and semantic approaches, while few studies are found to focus on how to subsequently analyze and fully utilize the already well-established semantic networks. In this paper, a specific network analysis method is proposed to discover the implicit knowledge associations from the existing semantic network for improving knowledge discovery and design innovation. Pythagorean means are applied with Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm to discover the implicit knowledge associations either around a single knowledge concept or between two concepts. Six criteria are established to evaluate and rank the correlation degree of the implicit associations. Two engineering case studies were conducted to illustrate the proposed knowledge discovery process, and the results showed the effectiveness of the retrieved implicit knowledge associations on helping providing relevant knowledge from various aspects, and provoking creative ideas for engineering innovation.

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