Abstract

The design of even the simplest product requires thousands of decisions. Yet very few of these decisions are supported with methods on paper or on computers. Is this because engineering design decisions don’t need support or is it because techniques have yet to be developed that are usable on a wide basis? In considering this question a wide range of decision problem characteristics need to be addressed. In engineering design some decisions are made by individuals, others by teams — some are about the product and others about the processes that support the product — some are based on complete, consistent, quantitative data and others on sparse, conflicting, qualitative discussions. In order to address the reasons why so little support is used and the characteristics of potentially useful decision support tools, a taxonomy of decision characteristics is proposed.1 This taxonomy is used to classify current techniques and to define the requirements for an ideal engineering design decision support system.

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