Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis

Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis

Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), or "Multi Criteria Decision Making" (MCDM), is a discipline aimed at supporting decision makers who are faced with making numerous and conflicting evaluations. MCDA aims at highlighting these conflicts and deriving a way to come to a compromise in a transparent process.

For example, the European Parliament may apply MCDA to help assess whether the introduction of software patents in Europe would help or destroy the European software industry. Since MCDA involves a certain element of subjectiveness, the morals and ethics of the researcher implementing MCDA play a significant part in the accuracy and fairness of MCDA's conclusions. The ethical point is very important when one is making a decision that seriously impacts on other people, as opposed to a personal decision. Some of the MCDA methods are:

*Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP)
*Multi-attribute value theory (MAVT)
*Multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT)
*Multi-Attribute Global Inference of Quality (MAGIQ)
*Goal Programming
*ELECTRE (Outranking)
*PROMETHÉE (Outranking)
*Data Envelopment Analysis
*The Evidential Reasoning Approach
*Dominance-based Rough Set Approach (DRSA)
*Aggregated Indices Randomization Method (AIRM)

The choice of which model is most appropriate depends on the problem at hand and may be to some extent dependent on which model the decision maker is most comfortable with.

The New Approach to Appraisal (NATA), which is a framework used to appraise transport projects and proposals in the United Kingdom, is a major practical application of an MCDA-based approach to support Government decision making. Other applications of MCDA approaches used by the UK Government are set out in its own MCDA manual.

The [ International Society on Multi-criteria Decision Making] is a professional society of researchers and practitioners in the field.

General form

A number of strategies (also called: alternatives / actions) and a number of criteria (also called: aspects / dimensions) by which they are ranked.


A classification is often made, based on the size of the set of strategies:
*MADM (Multi-Attribute Decision Making), concerned with choosing from small, finite, or countable number of strategies.and
*MODM (Multi-Objective Decision Making), concerned with choosing from a large, infinite, or uncountable number of alternatives.

MCDA's are also often classified based upon the type of aggregation or the nature of the input data.


* Andrew, J. H., Stefan, H., & Elisabeth, B. (2008). A multi-objective model for environmental investment decision making. "Comput. Oper. Res.", 35(1), 253-266.
* Scholz, R.W. & Tietje, O. (2002). "Embedded Case Study Methods. Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Knowledge". Sage Publications. Thousand Oaks, Sage. ISBN 0761919465

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