Elicitation of Preference Structure in Engineering Design

J. K. Tan


Engineering design processes, which inherently involve multiple, often conflicting criteria, can be broadly classified into synthesis and analysis processes. Multiple Criteria Decision Making addresses synthesis and analysis processes through multiple objective optimisation to generate sets of efficient design solutions (i.e. on Pareto surfaces) and multiple attribute decision making to analyse and select the most preferred design solution(s). MCDM, therefore, has been widely used in all fields of engineering design; for example it has been applied to such diverse areas as naval battle ships criteria analysis/selection and product appearance design. Given a list of design alternatives with multiple conflicting criteria, preferences often determine the final selection of a particular set of design alternative(s). Preferences may also be used to drive the design/design optimisation processes. Various methods have been proposed to model preference structure, for example simple weights, multiple attribute utility theory, pairwise comparison, etc. Preference structure is often non-linear, discontinuous and complex. An Artificial Neural Network (ANN) learning-based preference elicitation method is presented in this paper. ANNs efficiently model the non-linearity, complexity and discontinuity nature of any given preference structure. A case study is presented to illustrate the learning-based approach to preference structure elicitation. 


engineering design; multiple criteria decision making; preference structure

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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague