A methodology for uncertainty quantification in quantitative technology valuation based on expert elicitation
Akram, Muhammad Farooq
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The management of technology portfolios is an important element of aerospace system design. New technologies are often applied to new product designs to ensure their competitiveness at the time they are introduced to market. The future performance of yet-to-be designed components is inherently uncertain, necessitating subject matter expert knowledge, statistical methods and financial forecasting. Estimates of the appropriate parameter settings often come from disciplinary experts, who may disagree with each other because of varying experience and background. Due to inherent uncertain nature of expert elicitation in technology valuation process, appropriate uncertainty quantification and propagation is very critical. The uncertainty in defining the impact of an input on performance parameters of a system, make it difficult to use traditional probability theory. Often the available information is not enough to assign the appropriate probability distributions to uncertain inputs. Another problem faced during technology elicitation pertains to technology interactions in a portfolio. When multiple technologies are applied simultaneously on a system, often their cumulative impact is non-linear. Current methods assume that technologies are either incompatible or linearly independent. It is observed that in case of lack of knowledge about the problem, epistemic uncertainty is most suitable representation of the process. It reduces the number of assumptions during the elicitation process, when experts are forced to assign probability distributions to their opinions without sufficient knowledge. Epistemic uncertainty can be quantified by many techniques. In present research it is proposed that interval analysis and Dempster-Shafer theory of evidence are better suited for quantification of epistemic uncertainty in technology valuation process. Proposed technique seeks to offset some of the problems faced by using deterministic or traditional probabilistic approaches for uncertainty propagation. Non-linear behavior in technology interactions is captured through expert elicitation based technology synergy matrices (TSM). Proposed TSMs increase the fidelity of current technology forecasting methods by including higher order technology interactions. A test case for quantification of epistemic uncertainty on a large scale problem of combined cycle power generation system was selected. A detailed multidisciplinary modeling and simulation environment was adopted for this problem. Results have shown that evidence theory based technique provides more insight on the uncertainties arising from incomplete information or lack of knowledge as compared to deterministic or probability theory methods. Margin analysis was also carried out for both the techniques. A detailed description of TSMs and their usage in conjunction with technology impact matrices and technology compatibility matrices is discussed. Various combination methods are also proposed for higher order interactions, which can be applied according to the expert opinion or historical data. The introduction of technology synergy matrix enabled capturing the higher order technology interactions, and improvement in predicted system performance.