During the early stage design of large-scale engineering systems, design teams are challenged to balance a complex set of considerations. The established structured approaches for optimizing complex system designs offer strategies for achieving optimal solutions, but in practice suboptimal system-level results are often reached due to factors such as satisficing, ill-defined problems, or other project constraints. Twelve subsystem and system-level practitioners at a large aerospace organization were interviewed to understand the ways in which they integrate subsystems in their own work. Responses showed subsystem team members often presented conservative, worst-case scenarios to other subsystems when negotiating a tradeoff as a way of hedging against their own future needs. This practice of biased information passing, referred to informally by the practitioners as adding “margins,” is modeled in this paper with a series of optimization simulations. Three “bias” conditions were tested: no bias, a constant bias, and a bias which decreases with time. Results from the simulations show that biased information passing negatively affects both the number of iterations needed and the Pareto optimality of system-level solutions. Results are also compared to the interview responses and highlight several themes with respect to complex system design practice.
Biased Information Passing Between Subsystems Over Time in Complex System Design
Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received February 27, 2015; final manuscript received September 28, 2015; published online November 4, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Kristina Shea.
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Austin-Breneman, J., Yu, B. Y., and Yang, M. C. (November 4, 2015). "Biased Information Passing Between Subsystems Over Time in Complex System Design." ASME. J. Mech. Des. January 2016; 138(1): 011101. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4031745
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