Pandey, V. and Mourelatos, Z., "A Methodology for Design Decisions using Block Diagrams," SAE Int. J. Mater. Manf. 6(3):474-480, 2013, doi:10.4271/2013-01-0947.
Our recent work has shown that representation of systems using a reliability block diagram can be used as a decision making tool. In decision making, we called these block diagrams decision topologies. In this paper, we generalize the results and show that decision topologies can be used to make many engineering decisions and can in fact replace decision analysis for most decisions. We also provide a meta-proof that the proposed method using decision topologies is entirely consistent with decision analysis at the limit. The main advantages of the method are that (1) it provides a visual representation of a decision situation, (2) it can easily model tradeoffs, (3) it can incorporate binary attributes, (4) it can model preferences with limited information, and (5) it can be used in a low-fidelity sense to quickly make a decision. The method is based on recent developments towards identifying system topologies with limited information and representing a reliability block diagram with linear algebra operations. This paper details the theoretical basis of the proposed method and highlights its importance. An example is used to demonstrate how decision topologies can be used in practice.