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Materials selection and multi-attribute utility analysis

Summary

Multi-attribute utility analysis (MAUA) has emerged as a powerful tool for materials selection and evaluation. An operations research technique, MAUA has been used in a wide range of engineering areas, of which materials science and engineering is one of the more recent. Utility analysis affords a rational method of materials selection which avoids many of the fundamental logical difficulties of many widely used alternative approaches. However, MAUA has traditionally been used in materials selection problems only, in which there is certainty regarding the attribute levels of the alternatives. For many new technologies this is not the case. Another operations research technique, subjective probability assessment (SPA), can be used to address this issue. SPA makes it possible to measure a probabilistic distribution describing the confidence of the decision maker in the levels of attributes for which there is a high degree of uncertainty. These probability distributions can be used in conjunction with MAUA to provide a consistent framework for making materials selection decisions. Furthermore, the use of these techniques extends beyond the problem of materials selection into the more speculative areas of materials competitiveness and market demand in cases involving new, unproven technologies.

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Roth, R., Field, F. & Clark, J. Materials selection and multi-attribute utility analysis. J Computer-Aided Mater Des 1, 325–342 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00712855

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Key words

  • Materials selection
  • Decision analysis
  • Utility analysis
  • Probability assessment