Theoretical Foundations for Preference Representation in Systems Engineering
The realization of large-scale complex engineered systems is contingent upon satisfaction of the preferences of the stakeholder. With numerous decisions being involved in all the aspects of the system lifecycle, from conception to disposal, it is critical to have an explicit and rigorous representation of stakeholder preferences to be communicated to key personnel in the organizational hierarchy. Past work on stakeholder preference representation and communication in systems engineering has been primarily requirement-driven. More recent value-based approaches still do not offer a rigorous framework on how to represent stakeholder preferences but assume that an overarching value function that can precisely capture stakeholder preferences exists. This article provides a formalism based on modal preference logic to aid in rigorous representation and communication of stakeholder preferences. Formal definitions for the different types of stakeholder preferences encountered in a systems engineering context are provided in addition to multiple theorems that improve the understanding of the relationship between stakeholder preferences and the solution space.