Fuzzy Operator Trees for Modeling Utility Functions
In this thesis, we propose a method for modeling utility (rating) functions based on a novel concept called textbf{Fuzzy Operator Tree} (FOT for short). As the notion suggests, this method makes use of techniques from fuzzy set theory and implements a fuzzy rating function, that is, a utility functi...
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Format:  Doctoral Thesis 
Language:  English 
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PhilippsUniversität Marburg
2008

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Summary:  In this thesis, we propose a method for modeling utility (rating) functions based on a novel concept called textbf{Fuzzy Operator Tree} (FOT for short). As the notion suggests, this method makes use of techniques from fuzzy set theory and implements a fuzzy rating function, that is, a utility function that maps to the unit interval, where $0$ corresponds to the lowest and $1$ to the highest evaluation. Even though the original motivation comes from quality control, FOTs are completely general and widely applicable.
Our approach allows a human expert to specify a model in the form of an FOT in a quite convenient and intuitive way. To this end, he simply has to split evaluation criteria into subcriteria in a recursive manner, and to determine in which way these subcriteria ought to be combined: conjunctively, disjunctively, or by means of an averaging operator. The result of this process is the qualitative structure of the model. A second step, then, it is to parameterize the model. To support or even free the expert form this step, we develop a method for calibrating the model on the basis of exemplary ratings, that is, in a purely datadriven way. This method, which makes use of optimization techniques from the field of evolutionary algorithms, constitutes the second major contribution of the thesis.
The third contribution of the thesis is a method for evaluating an FOT in a costefficient way. Roughly speaking, an FOT can be seen as an aggregation function that combines the evaluations of a number of basic criteria into an overall rating of an object. Essentially, the cost of computing this rating is hence given by sum of the evaluation costs of the basic criteria. In practice, however, the precise utility degree is often not needed. Instead, it is enough to know whether it lies above or below an important threshold value. In such cases, the evaluation process, understood as a sequential evaluation of basic criteria, can be stopped as soon as this question can be answered in a unique way. Of course, the (expected) number of basic criteria and, therefore, the (expected) evaluation cost will then strongly depend on the order of the evaluations, and this is what is optimized by the methods that we have developed. 

Physical Description:  174 Pages 
DOI:  10.17192/z2008.0915 