A study of convergence in decentralized design processes

  • Chanron V
  • Lewis K
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Abstract

The decomposition and coordination of decisions
in the design of complex engineering systems is a
great challenge. Companies who design these systems
routinely allocate design responsibility of the various
subsystems and components to different people, teams
or even suppliers. The mechanisms behind this network
of decentralized design decisions create difficult management
and coordination issues. However, developing
efficient design processes is paramount, especially with
market pressures and customer expectations. Standard
techniques to modeling and solving decentralized design
problems typically fail to understand the underlying
dynamics of the decentralized processes and therefore
result in suboptimal solutions. This paper aims to model
and understand the mechanisms and dynamics behind a
decentralized set of decisions within a complex design
process. By using concepts from the fields of mathematics
and economics, including Game Theory and the
Cobweb model, we model a simple decentralized design
problem and provide efficient solutions. This new approach
uses matrix series and linear algebra as tools to
determine conditions for convergence of such decentralized
design problems. The goal of this paper is to
establish the first steps towards understanding the
mechanisms of decentralized decision processes. This
includes two major steps: studying the convergence
characteristics and finding the final equilibrium solution
of a decentralized problem. Illustrations of the developments
are provided in the form of two decentralized
design problems with different underlying behavior.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Decentralized design
  • Decomposition
  • Game Theory
  • Nash equilibrium
  • Process convergence

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Authors

  • Vincent Chanron

  • Kemper Lewis

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