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Qualitative operators for reasoning maps: evaluating multi-criteria options with networks of reasons

Montibeller, G. and Belton, V. (2009) Qualitative operators for reasoning maps: evaluating multi-criteria options with networks of reasons. European Journal of Operational Research, 195 (3). pp. 829-840. ISSN 0377-2217

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Abstract

Cognitive/causal maps have been widely used as a powerful way of capturing decision-makers' views about a problem, representing it as a cause-effect discourse. Several ways of making causal inferences from this type of model have been proposed in the Operational Research and Artificial Intelligence literatures, but none, as far as we are aware, has attempted to use a causal map structure to perform a multi-criteria evaluation of decision alternatives. Recently, we have proposed a new multi-criteria method, denominated as a Reasoning Map, which permits the use of decision-makers' reasoning, structured as a network of means-and-ends (a particular type of causal map) to perform such an evaluation. In this manner, the model resembles the way that people talk and think about decisions in practice. The method also pays explicit attention to the cognitive limitations of decision-makers in providing preference information. Thus it employs qualitative assessment of preferences, utilises aggregation operators for qualitative data and provides also qualitative outputs. In this paper we discuss and evaluate possible ways of aggregating qualitative performance information in Reasoning Maps.