This paper by Jose Sanchez outlines a framework and conceptualization of combinatorial design. Combinatorial design is a term coined to describe non-parametric design strategies that focus on the permutation, combination and patterning of discrete units. These design strategies differ substantially from parametric design strategies as they do not operate under continuous numerical evaluations, intervals or ratios but rather finite discrete sets.
The conceptualization of this term and the differences with other design strategies are portrayed by the work done in the last 3 years of research at University of Southern California under the Polyomino agenda. The work, conducted together with students, has studied the use of discrete sets and combinatorial strategies within virtual reality environments to allow for an enhanced decision making process, one in which human intuition is coupled to algorithmic intelligence. The work of the research unit has been sponsored and tested by the company Stratays for ongoing research on crowd-sourced design.