Biased Information Passing Between Subsystems Over Time in Complex System Design
Author(s)Austin-Breneman, Jesse; Yu, Bo Yang; Yang, Maria
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The early stage design of large-scale engineering systems challenges design teams to balance a complex set of considerations. Established structured approaches for optimizing complex system designs offer strategies for achieving optimal solutions, but in practice sub-optimal system-level results are often reached due to factors such as satisficing, ill-defined problems or other project constraints. Twelve sub-system and system-level practitioners at a large aerospace organization were interviewed to understand the ways in which they integrate sub-systems. Responses showed sub-system team members often presented conservative, worst-case scenarios to other sub-systems when negotiating a trade-off as a way of hedging their own future needs. This practice of biased information passing, referred to informally by the practitioners as adding “margins,” is modeled 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 to reach 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.
DepartmentMIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division
Volume 7: 2nd Biennial International Conference on Dynamics for Design; 26th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
American society of Mechanical Engineers
Austin-Breneman, Jesse, Bo Yang Yu, and Maria C. Yang. “Biased Information Passing Between Subsystems Over Time in Complex System Design.” Volume 7: 2nd Biennial International Conference on Dynamics for Design; 26th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology (August 17, 2014).
Final published version