Using Indifference Points in Engineering Decisions

Michael J. Scott and Erik K. Antonsson

Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
(September 2000), ASME.


Multi-criteria decision support methods are common in engineering design.  These methods typically rely on the specification of importance weights to accomplish trade-offs among competing objectives.  Such methods can have difficulties, however: they may not be able to select all possible Pareto optima, and the direct specification of importance weights can be arbitrary and ad hoc.  The inability to reach all Pareto optima is shown to be surmountable by the consideration of trade-off strategy as an additional parameter of a decision.  The use of indifference points to select a best solution, as an alternative to direct specification of importance weights, is presented, and a simple truss design example is used to illustrate the concepts.