Tang X. and S. Krishnamurty, “On Decision Model Development in Engineering Design,” Special issue on “Decision-Based Design: Status and Promise” in the Journal of Engineering Design & Automation, In Press.
Decision analysis principles can provide valuable insights in advancing the state of knowledge on rational design decisions in engineering design and enable a better understanding of their consequences from an overall design perspective. From a practical point of view, a decision-based engineering design approach offers a formal strategy to reduce the multiple attributes in an engineering design problem to a single overall utility function in a probabilistic sense, which reflects the designer’s intent and preferences under conditions of uncertainty. This paper focuses on some of the topics central to the development of decision models, and discusses them in the context of their use and implementation in engineering design. Along with a commentary on decision related issues that are specific to engineering design, a detailed study on the currently prevailing preference assessment methods is presented. Three different preference elicitation perspectives are introduced to emphasize the fundamental characteristics of value theory and expected utility theory based methods, as well as to highlight the differences between implicit and explicit articulation of priorities using normative and descriptive points of view. Their application to engineering design is demonstrated through a case study and the results are discussed.