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What Is Multiobjective Optimization?

Jo Dunaway
Jo Dunaway

Multiobjective optimization is a term that refers to decision-making processes used to choose from several solutions to a complex problem. It is a set of techniques used to advance multiple objectives while at the same time limiting the sacrifice of any single objective in the set of objectives. These techniques require practitioners to be mindful of any sets of constraints upon the multiobjective optimization. These techniques are not for simple “either-or” decisions such as whether or not a family should purchase a new gas grill or construct a bricked charcoal grill in their backyard. Multiobjective problems are more complex and involve multiple analyses to determine optimal solutions.

It is evident when analyzing multiobjectives that optimizing one objective often leads to another objective, suffering a loss immediately or at some point in the future. Each objective needs to be analyzed for its value to the overall project, in order to clearly identify all objectives at their true values. It is also critical to examine how the various objectives are linked to each other currently, and how they would interact and connect in any future plan. The possible choices of a plan can be scrutinized, and weighted values can be estimated for how well these solutions might perform. Considering any constraints that might be placed on new solutions, such as costs, time, and invested resources, may point towards the best compromise of the variables of a solution decision.

Scientist with beakers
Scientist with beakers

Multiobjective optimization decisions require parameters for this kind of problem-solving activity. Optimization of complex systems is considered a science, and experts differ on the best techniques for optimization. Initially, listing all objectives and their potential variability under differing situations identifies their static properties. Next, it is advisable to study how multiobjective optimization might impact the overall business environment and future prospects, and evaluate costs-versus-benefit solutions with emphasis of specific objectives over other objectives in all variations. This should produce a diverse set of feasible solutions for the closest approximation to the overall objectives within an organization.

Multiobjective optimizing can require tweaking at stages in finance and economic fields as regional, countrywide, or global economic conditions change. Those in charge of policy-making must balance inflation worries, unemployment pictures, and availability of goods to produce other goods when taking policy stances. Engineers are likely to use optimization of several conflicting objectives when deciding where competing values of speed versus fuel efficiency are concerned. On the other hand, the head of a medical dynamic imaging department may need to balance decisions on equipment purchases or facility expansion as demand increases for their services.

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      Scientist with beakers