Value/Utility Function

The value or utility is a number that is attached to a possible decision outcome (or level of attribute). Each outcome has a value or utility. The utility (value) function converts different levels for an attribute into utility or value scores. It relates possible decision outcomes to a scale that reflects the decision maker’s relative preference. A value or utility function relates worth (usually measured on a scale of 0 to 1) to the attributes concerned. Thus the function is an expression yielding a standardized scale value for each value of a range of attribute data.

The term \ value function\ refers to a utility function in the context of a deterministic criterion or decision under certainty (Keeney and Raiffa 1976). It is assumed that the uncertainty involved in a decision situation is either a known or a negligible determinant of the utilities (values). The term \ utility function\ is restricted to a probabilistic criterion or decision under uncertainty, when the decision maker’s attitudes toward risk are an important determinant of the utilities (utility scores). In other words, the term \ utility scores\ may be applied in the context of both the value function and the utility function, while the term \ value\ is restricted to decision problems under certainty.

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