Optimal design of large systems is easier if the optimization model can be decomposed and solved as a set of smaller, coordinated subproblems. Casting a given design problem into a particular optimization model by selecting objectives and constraints is generally a subjective task. In system models where hierarchical decomposition is possible, a formal process for selecting objective functions can be made, so that the resulting optimal design model has an appropriate decomposed form and also possesses desirable properties for the scalar substitute functions used in multicriteria optimization. Such a process is often followed intuitively during the development of a system optimization model by summing selected objectives from each subsystem into a single overall system objective. The more formal process presented in this article is simple to implement and amenable to automation.

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