What is design? What makes it distinct from art, science, or engineering? The editors of this site decide dozens of times a day what is or isn’t “design.” But is it ultimately subjective, or can it be rigorously defined? Charles Eames offered up a string of impishly oversimplified answers to this question in 1972. Now a pair of Canadian academics have taken the opposite approach: They’ve attempted to formulate analytically a rigorous definition of “the design concept.” Should we take it seriously?Paul Ralph was preparing his Ph.D.