Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA)

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Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) is a decision-making framework and set of methodologies that help decision-makers evaluate, prioritize, and select the best options among alternatives by considering multiple, often conflicting criteria. MCDA techniques are widely used in various domains, including business, economics, healthcare, environmental management, and public policy.

Purpose and Role

The purpose of MCDA is to support decision-makers in making well-informed choices among various alternatives when facing complex problems involving multiple criteria. The role of MCDA is to:

  • Structure the decision problem by identifying and organizing the relevant criteria.
  • Quantify the performance or preference values of the alternatives with respect to each criterion.
  • Aggregate the values across criteria to derive a preference ranking or score for each alternative.
  • Analyze the results and provide insights to help decision-makers make informed choices.


Some essential components of MCDA are:

  • Alternatives: The different options or choices being considered in the decision-making process.
  • Criteria: The factors or attributes that are relevant to the decision and used to evaluate the alternatives.
  • Weights: The relative importance assigned to each criterion, reflecting the decision-maker's preferences.
  • Preference Values: The scores assigned to each alternative concerning each criterion, indicating their performance or desirability.
  • Aggregation Functions: The mathematical methods used to combine the preference values and weights to derive a ranking or score for each alternative.


MCDA is important because it:

  • Provides a systematic and transparent approach to decision-making, reducing bias and subjectivity.
  • Facilitates communication and collaboration among stakeholders by making the decision-making process more transparent and structured.
  • Enhances the quality of decision-making by taking into account multiple factors simultaneously.
  • Supports the analysis of trade-offs and the identification of the most preferred alternatives, even when there is no perfect solution.
  • Improves decision-makers' understanding of the problem and their preferences, leading to more informed and justifiable choices.

Examples of MCDA Methods

There are several MCDA methods, each with its unique approach to modeling preferences and aggregating criteria. Some popular MCDA methods include:

  • Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP): A pairwise comparison method that uses a hierarchical structure to organize criteria and alternatives.
  • Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS): A method that ranks alternatives based on their similarity to an ideal solution and their dissimilarity to an anti-ideal solution.
  • ELECTRE (ELimination Et Choix Traduisant la REalité): A family of outranking methods that compare alternatives based on the dominance of one alternative over another concerning multiple criteria.
  • PROMETHEE (Preference Ranking Organization METHod for Enrichment Evaluations): An outranking method that uses pairwise comparisons and preference functions to model the decision-maker's preferences.

In summary, Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) is a valuable decision-making framework and set of methodologies that support decision-makers in evaluating and selecting the best options among alternatives by considering multiple, often conflicting criteria. MCDA improves the quality and transparency of decision-making and is widely used in various domains to address complex problems.

See Also