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Jos´ Figueira e

Faculdade de Economia and INESC-Coimbra Universidade de Coimbra Av. Dias da Silva, 165, 3004-512 Coimbra Portugal

ﬁgueira@fe.uc.pt

**Vincent Mousseau, Bernard Roy
**

LAMSADE Universit´ Paris-Dauphine e Place du Mar´chal De Lattre de Tassigny, 75775 Paris Cedex 16 e France

**{mousseau,roy}@lamsade.dauphine.fr
**

Abstract Over the last three decades a large body of research in the ﬁeld of ELECTRE family methods appeared. This research has been conducted by several researchers mainly in Europe. The purpose of this chapter is to present a survey of the ELECTRE methods since their ﬁrst appearance in mid-sixties, when ELECTRE I was proposed by Bernard Roy and his colleagues at SEMA consultancy company. The chapter is organized in ﬁve sections. The ﬁrst section presents a brief history of ELECTRE methods. The second section is devoted to the main features of ELECTRE methods. The third section describes the diﬀerent ELECTRE methods existing in the literature according to the three main problematics: choosing, ranking and sorting. The fourth section presents the recent developments and future issues on ELECTRE methods. Finally, the ﬁfth section is devoted to the software and applications. An extensive and up-to-date bibliography is also provided in the end of this chapter.

Keywords: Multiple criteria decision aiding, Outranking approaches, ELECTRE methods.

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Introduction: A brief History

How far back in history should we go to discover the origins of ELECTRE methods? Some years ago B. Roy and D. Vanderpooten [119] published an article (“The European School of MCDA: Emergence, Basic Features and Current Works”, Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis) on this very topic. This introduction is largely based on their paper, but additional material has been included to deﬁne the origins more precisely and to look more deeply into the history of ELECTRE methods. We have also beneﬁted from an old, but nonetheless excellent, bibliography containing a lot of references collated by Y. Siskos, G. Wascher and H. Winkels [127]. The latter only covers the period 1966-1982, but contains many valuable references. The origins of ELECTRE methods go back to 1965 at the European consultancy company SEMA, which is still active today. At that time, a research team from SEMA worked on a concrete, multiple criteria, real-world problem regarding decisions dealing with the development of new activities in ﬁrms. For “solving” this problem a general multiple criteria method, MARSAN (M´thode d’Analyse, de Recherche, et de e S´lection d’Activit´s Nouvelles) was built. The analysts used a weightede e sum based technique included in the MARSAN method for the selection of the new activities [57]. When using the method the engineers from SEMA noticed serious drawbacks in the application of such a technique. B. Roy was thus consulted and soon tried to ﬁnd a new method to overcome the limitations of MARSAN. The ELECTRE method for choosing the best action(s) from a given set of actions was thus devised in 1965, and was later referred to as ELECTRE I (electre one). In that same year (July, 1965) the new multiple criteria outranking method was presented for the ﬁrst time at a conference (les journ´es d’´tudes sur les m´thodes e e e de calcul dans les sciences de l’homme), in Rome (Italy). Nevertheless, the original ideas of ELECTRE methods were ﬁrst merely published as a research report in 1966, the notorious Note de Travail 49 de la SEMA [10]. Shortly after its appearance, ELECTRE I was found to be successful when applied to a vast range of ﬁelds [18], but the method did not become widely known until 1968 when it was published in RIRO, la Revue d’Informatique et de Recherche Op´rationnelle [89]. This article e presents a comprehensive description of ELECTRE and the foundations of the outranking approach; the reader may also consult the graph theory book by B. Roy [90]. The method has since evolved and given rise to an “unoﬃcial” version, ELECTRE Iv (electre one vee). This version took into account the notion of a veto threshold. A further version known as ELECTRE IS (electre one esse) appeared subsequently (see [117]) and

ELECTRE Methods

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was used for modelling situations in which the data was imperfect (see below). This is the current version of ELECTRE methods for choice problematic. The acronym ELECTRE stands for [10, 95]: ELimination Et Choix Traduisant la REalit´ (ELimination and Choice Expressing the REality), e and was cited for commercial reasons. At the time it seemed adequate and served well to promote the new tool. Nevertheless, the developments in ELECTRE methods over the last three decades, the way in which we consider the tool today and the methodological foundations of multiple criteria decision aiding have made the meaning of the acronym unsatisfactory. An atypical ELECTRE method was also created to deal with the problem of highway layout in the Ile de France region; it was called the meaningful compensation method [11, 12, 25, 91, 109]. This approach was based on substitution rates. These rates were ill-deﬁned (stakeholders views about their values strongly diﬀered), it was only possible to ﬁx a minimum and maximum value for each one. On such a basis a set of embedded fuzzy relations has been deﬁned. In the late sixties, a diﬀerent real-world decision making situation arose in media planning, concerning the deﬁnition of an advertising plan. For such a purpose the question was: how to establish an adequate system of ranking for periodicals (magazines, newspapers, ...)? This led to the birth of ELECTRE II (electre two): a method for dealing with the problem of ranking actions from the best option to the worst [1, 43, 106, 107]. However, in a world where perfect knowledge is rare, imperfect knowledge only could be taken into account in ELECTRE methods through the use of probabilistic distributions and expected utility criterion. Clearly more work needed to be done. Research in this area was still in its initial stages. Another way to cope with uncertain, imprecision and ill-determination has been introduced, the threshold approach [19, 49, 50, 114]. For more details and a comprehensive treatment of this issue see [14, 96, 97]. Just a few years later a new method for ranking actions was devised: ELECTRE III (electre three), [93, 116]. The main new ideas introduced by this method were the use of pseudo-criteria (see [92]) and fuzzy binary outranking relations. Another ELECTRE method, known as ELECTRE IV (electre four), arose from a new real-world problem related to the Paris subway network [38, 45, 110, 111, 113]. It now became possible to rank actions without using the relative criteria importance coeﬃcients; this is the only ELECTRE method which does not make use of such coeﬃcients. In addition, the new method was equipped with an embedded outranking relations framework.

ELECTRE A. both simpler and more general [141. 142]. was greatly inspired by these earlier works. modelling with an outranking relation. at the same time.1. this new method is. and how to account for imperfect knowledge. The decision-maker (DM) wants to include in the model at least three criteria. ELECTRE methods are still evolving. 2. [99. It removed everything they had of speciﬁc given their context of application. The most recent sorting method. Main Features of ELECTRE Methods This section presents a set of key issues concerning ELECTRE methods: the context in which they are relevant. Section 4 presents recent developments on the topic and avenues for future research. aggregation procedures are more adapted in situations when decision models include more than ﬁve criteria (up to twelve or thirteen). This should have remained conﬁdential. was devised and applied in 10 sectors of activity. 109. 1. 122]). where gj (x) is the j evaluation of action x on criterion gj . Actions are evaluated (for at least one criterion) on an ordinal scale (see [84]) or on a weakly interval scale (see [63]). However. ELECTRE TRI (electre tree). in order to help decision making in a large banking company which faced to the problem of accepting or refusing credits requested by ﬁrms. it is diﬃcult and/or artiﬁcial to deﬁne a coding that makes sense in terms of g (a)−gj (b) preference diﬀerences of the ratios gj (c)−gj (d) . a speciﬁc method. These scales are not suitable for the comparison of diﬀerences. This is a decision tree based approach. the trichotomy procedure [67. the role of criteria. Several years later. However. in the late seventies a new technique of sorting actions into predeﬁned and ordered categories was proposed i.4 Methods created up to this point were particularly designed to help decision making in choosing and ranking actions. In What Context Are ELECTRE Methods Relevant? ELECTRE methods are relevant when facing decision situations with the following characteristics (see. And.e. Indeed. 2. 68. 2. at least one of the following situations must be veriﬁed. 94]. . Hence. their structure.

aRb (a is incomparable to b). such situations require the use of noncompensatory aggregation procedures (see Chapter ??). This relation is useful to account for situations in which the DM and/or the analyst are not able to compare two actions.e.e. .). aIb (a is indiﬀerent to b).ELECTRE Methods 5 3.. distance. Compensation of the loss on a given criterion by a gain on another one may not be acceptable for the DM. bSa and not aSb.e. none of the criteria in the minority should oppose too strongly to the assertion aSb... .. aP b (a is strictly preferred to b). Considering two actions a and b. When the concordance condition holds. fuzzy or embedded) outranking relations. 5. cultural sites. 4. For an outranking aSb to be validated. S. monuments. A strong heterogeneity related with the nature of evaluations exists among criteria (e.2.. a suﬃcient majority of criteria should be in favor of this assertion. ELECTRE methods build one or several (crispy. i. i. Modelling Preferences Using an Outranking Relation Preferences in ELECTRE methods are modelled by using binary outranking relations. duration. four situations may occur: aSb and not bSa. This makes it diﬃcult to aggregate all the criteria in a unique and common scale.g. i. For at least one criterion the following holds true: small diﬀerences of evaluations are not signiﬁcant in terms of preferences. while the accumulation of several small diﬀerences may become signiﬁcant.e. This requires the introduction of discrimination thresholds (indifference and preference) which leads to a preference structure with a comprehensive intransitive indiﬀerence binary relation (see Chapter ??). whose meaning is “at least as good as”. 2 Non-discordance. bP a (b is strictly preferred to a). Not aSb and not bSa. R (incomparability).. Note that using outranking relations to model preferences introduces a new preference relation. Therefore. i. The construction of an outranking relation is based on two major concepts: 1 Concordance. 2. aSb and bSa. security.. noise.

2. Given a binary relation on set A it is extremely helpful to build a graph G = (V. 109. Veto thresholds express the power attributed to a given criterion to be against the assertion “a outranks b”. each method is characterized by its construction and its exploitation procedures. For more details the reader may consult the following references: [70. Let us point out that these parameters can not be interpreted as substitution rates as in compensatory aggregation procedures AHP [120]. The exploitation procedure is used to elaborate recommendations from the results obtained in the ﬁrst phase. U ). The weights do not depend neither on the ranges nor the encoding of the scales. if two reversal arcs exist. where V is the set of vertices and U the set of arcs. 138].4. Structure of ELECTRE Methods ELECTRE methods comprise two main procedures: construction of one or several outranking relation(s) followed by an exploitation procedure. These thresholds can be constant along a scale or it can also vary. 99. l) exists. and incomparabilities between actions. l) exists either if aP b or aIb. For a given criterion the weight. Preference intransitivities come from two diﬀerent situations: Condorcet eﬀect (see Chapter ??). MACBETH [7] and MAUT [55]. reﬂects its voting power when it contributes to the majority which is in favor of an outranking. The construction of one or several outranking relation(s) aims at comparing in a comprehensive way each pair of actions. About the Relative Importance of Criteria The relative role attached to criteria in ELECTRE methods is deﬁned by two distinct sets of parameters: the importance coeﬃcients and the veto thresholds. For each action a ∈ A we associate a vertex i ∈ V and for each pair of actions (a. b) ∈ A the arc (i. 98. An outranking relation is not necessarily transitive. The nature of the recommendations depends on the problematic (choosing. ranking or sorting). If there is no arc between vertices i and l. This requires an exploitation procedure to derive from such a relation results that ﬁt the problematic (see Chapter ??). 135. An action a outranks b if and only if the arc (i. when the diﬀerence of the evaluation between g(b) and g(a) is greater than this threshold. 2. The importance coeﬃcients in ELECTRE methods refer to intrinsic “weights”.3. there is an indiﬀerence between both a and b. Hence.6 These two conditions must be fulﬁlled for validating the assertion aSb. it means that a and b are incomparable. wj . .

due to over or under-estimations. It should be noticed that there are no true values for thresholds. Therefore. 115. 125. When they are variable we must distinguish between direct (the evaluation of the best action is taken into account) and inverse (when they are computed by using the worst evaluation). 2. some of them come directly from the deﬁnition of threshold and other ask for the concept of dispersion threshold (see Section 4. The following list is not exhaustive: [35.5.2). 87. How to assign values to such thresholds? There are several techniques which can be used. be compatible with indiﬀerence between the two actions (indiﬀerence thresholds. ELECTRE methods make use of discrimination (indiﬀerence and preference) thresholds. 69. 86. the values chosen to assign to the thresholds are the most convenient (the best adapted) for expressing the imperfect character of the knowledge. For more details about thresholds see. 64. and are used for modelling situations in which the diﬀerence between evaluations associated with two diﬀerent actions on a given criterion may either: justify the preference in favor of one of the two actions (preference threshold. 103. 17. 102. A dispersion threshold allow us to take into account the concept of probable value and the notion of optimistic and pessimistic values. These thresholds can be constant or vary along the scale. qj ). [2. This leads to a pseudo-criterion model on each criterion (see Chapter ??). 95. It translates the plausible diﬀerence.ELECTRE Methods 7 A large quantity of works have been published on the topic of relative importance of criteria. which aﬀect the evaluation of a consequence or of a performance level. Discrimination thresholds account for the imperfect nature of the evaluations. 109] . Discrimination Thresholds To take into account the imperfect character of the evaluation of actions (see Chapter ??). 104. 136]. pj ). 100. 116. be interpreted as an hesitation between opting for a preference or an indiﬀerence between the two actions.

95. 142]. having usually a vast spectrum of quantitative and qualitative elementary consequences. 125]. 100. 122. 3. The method does not have a signiﬁcant practical interest. 20. “a is at least as good as b”) denoted by aSb. 3. 16. however. details will be omitted. leading to the construction of a contradictory and very heterogeneous set of criteria with both numerical and ordinal scales associated with them. . Much of the theory developed on this ﬁeld is presented in these books. 75. Bouyssou [109] and Ph. The order in which methods will be presented permit us to understand the historical introduction of the two fundamental concepts in multiple criteria decision aiding. however. 37.1 ELECTRE I. 87. 123] are also good references in the area. as small as possible.8 3. 117. In addition. 43. be found in the references cited above. Roy and his colleagues at SEMA and later at LAMSADE (some of these papers were cited in the introduction). only when two conditions hold. veto thresholds and pseudo-criteria. The method is very simple and it should be applied only when all the criteria have been coded in numerical scales with identical ranges.1. The objective of this problematic consists of aiding DMs in selecting a subset of actions. Finally.1. In what follows we will only summarize the elementary concepts underlying ELECTRE methods. In such a situation we can assert that an action “a outranks b” (that is. A Short Description of ELECTRE Methods A comprehensive treatment of ELECTRE methods may be found in the books by B. was foreshadowed in earlier papers namely by B. 79. in such a way that a single action may ﬁnally be chosen. More sophisticated presentations can. a certain degree of imprecision. 15. uncertainty or ill-determination is always attached to the knowledge collected from real-world problems. This theory. The books [64. Vincke [139]. Choice Problematic Let us remind the purpose of choice problematic before presenting methods. The purpose underlying the description of this method is rather theoretical and pedagogical. given the very nature of realworld applications. Description of methods is presented in problematic and chronological order. 52. several other works deserve to be mentioned because they include information concerning ELECTRE methods: [5. 134. ELECTRE software manuals also contain much material both on theoretical and pedagogical issues [2. Roy and D.

Hence for each pair of actions (a. aP b (a is strictly preferred to b). aSb and bSa. Discordant coalition exerts no power whenever d(aSb) ≤ v. no discordance against the assertion “a is at least as good as b” may occur. we mean the sum of the weights associated to the criteria forming that coalition.e.. i. Both concordance and discordance indices have to be computed for every pair of actions (a.. By strength of the concordant coalition. i. aIb (a is indiﬀerent to b). where a = b. The discordance is measured by a discordance level deﬁned as follows: d(aSb) = {j : gj (a)<gj (b)} max gj (b) − gj (a) This level measures in some way the power of the discordant coalition. the value of the concordance index must be greater than or equal to a given concordance level. In the construction procedure of ELECTRE I method only one outranking relation S is matter of fact. for the sake of formulae simplicity. aRb (a is incomparable to b). v. where J is the set of the indices of the criteria): c(aSb) = {j : gj (a)≥gj (b)} wj (where {j : gj (a) ≥ gj (b)} is the set of indices for all the criteria belonging to the concordant coalition with the outranking relation aSb. only one of the following situations may occur: aSb and not bSa. bP a (b is strictly preferred to a). 1 − minj∈J wj ].e. c(aSb) ≥ s. the strength of the concordant coalition must be powerful enough to support the above assertion. i. i. On the other hand. meaning that if its value surpasses a given level. i.. It is easy to see that such a computing procedure leads to a binary relation in comprehensive terms (taking into account the whole set of criteria) on the set A.e. . Not aSb and not bSa. the assertion is no longer valid. b).5.e.e. This preference-indiﬀerence framework with the possibility to resort to incomparability.ELECTRE Methods 9 On the one hand. bSa and not aSb. or a subset of actions the DM will focus his attention on. that j∈J wj = 1.) In other words... whose value generally falls within the range [0. s. b) in the set A. says nothing about how to select the best compromise action. It can be deﬁned by the following concordance index (assuming.

. Whichever the scales type. forming thus a partition on A. now called no veto condition. The new tool made possible for analysts and DMs to overcome the diﬃculties related to the heterogeneity of scales. The name ELECTRE Iv was an unoﬃcial name created for designating ELECTRE I with veto threshold ([64]).2 ELECTRE Iv. otherwise. let us point out that a graph G may contain direct cycles. vj . to the deﬁnition of an upper bound beyond which the discordance about the assertion “a outranks b” can not surpass and allow an outranking. ¯ ¯ ¯ Each class on A = {A1 . Indeed. . ¯ ≻. But.3). from which the ˆ best compromise action could be selected. the graph contains no kernels or several. however. The new tool introduced was the veto threshold. that can be attributed to certain criteria gj belonging to the family of criteria F .1. If that is the case. A2 . while discordance level is related to the scale of criterion gj in absolute terms for an action a from A. In practice. this method is always able to select the best compromise action or a subset of actions to be analyzed by DMs. threshold veto is related to the preference diﬀerences between gj (a) and gj (b). A. there exists always a unique kernel. Such a subset. This method is equipped with a diﬀerent but extremely useful tool. quite diﬀerent from the idea of the disconcordance level like in ELECTRE I. ∀ j ∈ J . a preprocessing step must take place where maximal direct cycles are reduced to single¯ ton elements. The only diﬀerence being the discordance condition. The concept of veto threshold is related in some way. criticized. Let A denote that partition. It should be noticed that a new preference relation. . is deﬁned on A: ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ Ap ≻ Aq ⇔ ∃a ∈ Ap and ∃b ∈ Aq such that aSb for Ap = Aq In ELECTRE I all the actions which form a cycle are considered indiﬀerent. KG .1. When the graph contains no direct cycles. which may be stated as follows: gj (a) + vj (gj (a)) ≥ gj (b).10 The second procedure consists of exploiting this outranking relation in order to identify a small as possible subset of actions. which may be. the idea of threshold is.} is now composed of a set of (considered) equivalent actions. may be determined with the help of the graph kernel concept. little changes occur when moving from ELECTRE I to ELECTRE Iv. The justiﬁcation of the use of this concept can be found in [109]. In terms of structure and formulae. ELECTRE IS was designed to mitigate this inconvenient (see Section 3. 3.

ϕj = gj (a) + pj (gj (a)) − gj (b) pj (gj (a)) − qj (gj (a)) the coeﬃcient ϕj decreases linearly from 1 to 0. Both concordance and no veto conditions change. • Concordance condition Let us start by building the following two indices sets: 1 concerning the coalition of criteria in which aSb J S = j ∈ J : gj (a) + qj (gj (a)) ≥ gj (b) 2 concerning the coalition of criteria in which bQa J Q = j ∈ J : gj (a)+qj (gj (a)) < gj (a) ≤ gj (b)+pj (gj (b)) The concordance condition will be: c(aSb) = j∈J S wj + j∈J Q ϕ j wj ≥ s where.1. The main novelty of ELECTRE IS is the use of pseudo-criteria instead of true-criteria. and imperfect knowledge about real-world decision-making situations? Previous theoretical research done on thresholds and semi-orders may. correlatively. the so-called ELECTRE IS method. this method is by no means complete. a backing up (reinforcement) of the veto eﬀect when the importance of the concordant coalition decreases. But. This method is an extension of the previous one aiming at taking into account a double objective: primarily the use of possible no nil indiﬀerence and preference thresholds for certain criteria belonging to F and. among the minority of criteria that are opposed to this assertion. none of them puts its veto.ELECTRE Methods 11 To validate the assertion “a outranks b” it is necessary that. gj (a) + pj (gj (a))]. . Let us present separately the formulae for each one of theses conditions. illuminate the issue of inaccurate data and permit to build a more general procedure. How general an ELECTRE method can be when applied to choice decision-making problems? Is it possible to take into account simultaneously the heterogeneity of criteria scales. the problem of imperfect knowledge remains. ELECTRE Iv uses the same exploitation procedure as ELECTRE I. when gj describes the range [gj (a) + qj (gj (a)). however. 3.3 ELECTRE IS.

This method was the ﬁrst of ELECTRE methods especially designed to deal with ranking problems. There are three diﬀerent ELECTRE methods to deal with this problematic. where s1 . possibly with ex æquo. s2 ∈ [0.12 • no veto condition The no veto condition can be stated as follows: gj (a) + vj (gj (a)) ≥ gj (b) + qj (gj (b))ηj where. Without going into further detail.2. There are two embedded relations: a strong outranking relation followed by a weak outranking relation.2.5. The construction procedure is very closed to ELECTRE Iv. we take into account the concept of degree of robustness of “a outranks b”. actions belonging to a cycle are no longer considered as indiﬀerent as in the previous versions of ELECTRE for choice problems. Ranking Problematic In ranking problematic we are concerned with the ranking of all the actions belonging to a given set of actions from the best to the worst. for r = 1. to use a technique based on the construction of an embedded outranking relations sequence. However. concordance condition is modiﬁed in order to take into account the notion of embedded outranking relations. the concordance condition with the assertion “a outranks b” can be deﬁned as follows: c(aSb) ≥ sr and c(aSb) ≥ c(bSa).1 ELECTRE II. in the sense that it is also a true-criteria based procedure. it is important to point out that ELECTRE II was also the ﬁrst method. Now. It is a reinforcement of veto eﬀect and allow us to build true classes of ex æquo (ties) and thus deﬁne an acycle graph over these classes. 1 − minj∈J wj ]. 2 The exploiting procedure is a four-step algorithm: . Now. s1 > s2 . In such conditions there is always a single kernel. Both the strong and weak relations are built thanks to the deﬁnition of two concordance levels. Hence. 3. 3. From an historical and pedagogical point of view it is interesting to present ELECTRE II. it is not surprising that the no veto condition remains the same. ηj = 1 − c(aSb) − wj 1 − s − wj In the exploitation procedure.

and it is deﬁned in the following way: aZb ⇔ aZ1 b and aZ2 b. Let A denote this partition. B 2 . . If all the actions belonging to each maximal cycle are grouped together into a single class.ELECTRE Methods 13 1 Partioning the set A. • deﬁne the rough version of the complete pre-order Z2 by putting it in the queue of this pre-order. . while placing in the head of this pre-order and in an ex æquo position all classes of B 1 . Z = Z1 ∩ Z2 . When each ¯ class of A is not a singleton. . a subset 2 will be found. the 1 of classes of A following the rule ¯ procedure identiﬁes a subset B “no other is preferred to them” according to the relation ≻1 . Now. The procedure iterates in the same way till deﬁne B ¯ the ﬁnal partition on A. this relation may deﬁne on A one or several cycles. {B 1 . .}. This reﬁnement consists of using the information that brings this less believable outranking to decide between the various classes of a subset B p when it contains several classes. then those of B 2 and so forth. After obtaining A. . The partial pre-order Z is an intersection of Z1 and Z2 . ¯ ¯ 2 Building a complete pre-order Z1 on A. This relation has the same meaning as the relation ≻ for ELECTRE I. let us consider the relation S 1 over A. and in an ex æquo ′ ′ position all classes of B 1 . The procedure to obtain this pre-order is quite similar to the above one. on the basis of S 1 . In a similar way like in ELECTRE I. then those of B 2 and so forth. After ¯ ¯ removing B 1 from A and applying the same rule to A\B 1 . In order to deﬁne Z1 in a more accurate way. we examine if it is possible to reﬁne this pre-order on the basis of the relation S 2 . 4 Deﬁning the partial pre-order Z. only two modiﬁcations are needed: • apply the rule “they are not preferred to any other” instead ′ ′ of “no other is preferred to them”.} denote the partition thus obtained. we may deﬁne a rough version of the complete pre-order Z1 . . ¯ 3 Determining a complete pre-order Z2 on A. a partition ¯ on A will be obtained. the actions belonging to that class will be considered as ex æquo. . let {B 1 . This reﬁnement of the rough version is obtained while using S 2 to deﬁne over B p a complete pre-order that takes place between B p−1 and B p+1 . For the purpose of comparison between ¯ elements of A a preference relation ≻1 will be used. First. B 2 .

ELECTRE III was designed to improve ELECTRE II and thus deal with inaccurate. it is minimal when the criterion gj is not discordant with that relation.2 ELECTRE III. The discordance index reaches its maximal value when criterion gj puts its veto to the outranking relation. It is deﬁned by using both the concordance index (as determined in ELECTRE IS). . the assertion is not credible at all. it implies that ρ(aSb) = 0. and ELECTRE III was applied with success during the last two decades on a broad range of real-life applications. The discordance of a criterion gj aims at taking into account the fact that this criterion is more or less discordant with the assertion aSb. thus the index is null. let ρ(aSb) denote this index.2. In the current description of ELECTRE III we will omit several formulae details. This index can now be presented as follows: 1 if gj (b) > gj (a) + vj (gj (a)) gj (b)−gj (a)−pj (gj (a)) vj (gj (a))−pj (gj (a)) . the credibility of the outranking relation is equal to the comprehensive concordance index. imprecise. and a discordance index for each criterion gj in F . which characterizes the credibility of the assertion “a outranks b”. we simply admitted that this value grows in proportion to the diﬀerence gj (b) − gj (a). that is. b) When a discordant criterion activates its veto power. since c(aSb) < 1.14 3. The construction of this relation requires the deﬁnition of a credibility index. c(aSb). In ELECTRE III the outranking relation can be interpreted as a fuzzy relation. uncertain or illdetermination of data. when dj (aSb) = 1. This purpose was actually achieved. dj (aSb) = 0 if gj (b) ≤ gj (a) + pj (gj (a)) otherwise The credibility index is deﬁned as follows. To deﬁne the value of the discordance index on the intermediate zone. ρ(aSb) = c(aSb) {j∈J : dj 1 − dj (aSb) 1 − c(aSb) (aSb)>c(aSb)} Notice that. dj (aSb). The deﬁnition of ρ(aSb) is thus based on the following main ideas: a) When there is no discordant criterion. The novelty of this method is the introduction of pseudocriteria instead of true-criteria. aSb.

¯h . Z1 and Z2 . . The complete pre-order Z2 is determined in a similar way. in the distillation h + 1. The modiﬁcation requires the implementation of the discordance concept. In [71] a modiﬁcation of the valued outranking relation used in the ELECTRE III and ELECTRE TRI was proposed. According to Z1 . Bq . The procedure designed to compute Z1 starts (ﬁrst distillation) by ¯ deﬁning an initial set D0 = A. A complete pre-order is ﬁnally suggested taking into account the partial pre-orders and some additional considerations. the actions in class Bh are. distillations that lead to these classes will be called as descending (top-down). Bu .∪ Bh ). the procedure sets D0 = After getting B ¯ ¯ ¯ A\(B1 ∪. . . Such a modiﬁcation is shown to preserve the original discordance concept. . . Bh . . it leads to the ﬁrst ﬁnal distilled B1 . . the new outranking relation makes it easier to solve inference programs. The partial pre-order Z will be computed as the intersection of Z1 and Z2 . . . the credibility index becomes lower than the comprehensive concordance index. . . where A is partitioned into u ordered classes. Each class Bh is composed of ex æquo elements according to Z1 . B1 . which are obtained according to two variants of the same principle. . these distillations will be called ascending (bottom-up). ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ B1 . Each one of these ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ classes is obtained as a ﬁnal distilled of a distillation procedure. both acting in an antagonistic way on the ﬂoating actions. Bh . The procedure leading to Z2 is quite identic. Bu being the head-class. The way the incomparabilities which remain in the pre-order are treated is nevertheless subject to criticism. for this reason. A ﬁnal partial pre-order Z is then built as the intersection of the two complete pre-orders.ELECTRE Methods 15 c) For the remaining situations in which the comprehensive concordance index is strictly lower than the discordance index on the discordant criterion. but now the actions in ¯ ¯ Bh+1 are preferred to those in class Bh . . preferable ¯ to those of class Bh+1 . The exploitation procedure starts by deriving from the fuzzy relation two complete pre-orders as in ELECTRE II. . where B1 is the head-class in Z1 . . . The partial pre-order Z1 is deﬁned as a partition on the set A into q ordered classes. . . because of the opposition eﬀect on this criterion The index ρ(aSb) corresponds to the index c(aSb) weakened by possible veto eﬀects. .

2.16 3.3 ELECTRE IV. It consists of assigning each action to one of the pre-deﬁned categories which are deﬁned by norms or typical elements of the categories. Furthermore. The assignment of an action a to a speciﬁc category does not inﬂuence the category. .3. ELECTRE TRI is designed to assign a set of actions. S 5 . In Section 2. 3. Let C = {C1 . However. we do not want. Another approach we could take would be determining a pre-order. the movement from one credibility value ρr to another ρr+1 must be perceived as a considerable loss. There are ﬁve diﬀerent relations. The assignment of a given action a to a certain category Ch results from the comparison . each action is considered independently from the others in order to determine the categories to which it seems justiﬁed to assign it. 3. It means (while remaining on a merely ordinal basis) the assignment of a value ρr for the credibility index ρ(aSb) to the assertion aSb. In sorting problematic. ELECTRE IV is also a procedure based on the construction of a set of embedded outranking relations.3. in several circumstances we are not able. The ELECTRE IV exploiting procedure is the same as in ELECTRE III. let us assume from the worst (C1 ) to the best (Ck ). The deﬁnition of a category is based on the fact that all potential actions which are assigned to it will be considered further in the same way. . “adequate” or “not adequate” to some norms. . . 2. The S r+1 relation (r = 1. by means of comparisons to proﬁles (bounds. norms or references. The chosen values must be such that ρr > ρr+1 . objects or items to categories. The sorting problematic refers thus to absolute judgements. 3. . It does not mean that we would be satisﬁed with the pre-order obtained. Results are expressed using the absolute notion of “assigned” or “not assigned” to a category. Sorting Problematic A set of categories must be a priori deﬁned. Ch . limits).4 we pointed out the diﬃculty to deﬁne the relative importance coeﬃcients of criteria. . .1 ELECTRE TRI. or we do not know how to assign a value to those coeﬃcients. . which takes into account all the pre-orders obtained from the application of several combinations of the weights. “similar” or “not similar” to a reference proﬁle. this situation will be unmanageable. Each category must be characterized by a lower and an upper proﬁle. . . to which another action b should be assigned. In ELECTRE TRI categories are ordered. . S 1 . when applying ELECTRE III with the same value for all the coeﬃcients wj . . Obviously. Ck } denote the set of categories. 4) accepts an outranking in a less credible circumstances than the relation S r .

the assignment of an action is generally higher than with the conjunctive rule. When no incomparability occurs in the comparison of an action a to the limits of categories. I denote the indiﬀerence relation and R denote the incomparability binary relations. on at least one criterion. This assignment can be grounded on two well-known logics. . bh . bh being the upper limit of category Ch and the lower limit of category Ch+1 . With this disjunctive rule. This interpretation (optimistic-pessimistic) can be permuted according to the semantic attached to the outranking relation. Let ≻ denote the preference. an evaluation at least as good as the lower limit which has been deﬁned on the criterion to be in this category. . . without any loss of generality. The role of this exploitation is to propose an assignment. The action is hence assigned to the highest category fulﬁlling this condition. For a given category limit.ELECTRE Methods 17 of a to the proﬁles deﬁning the lower and upper limits of the categories. a is assigned to the same category by both the . In what follows. This level can be deﬁned as the credibility index smallest value compatible with the assertion aSbh . The action is hence assigned to the highest category fulﬁlling this condition. this comparison rely on the credibility of the assertions aSbh and bh Sa. that preferences increase with the value on each criterion. 2 The disjunctive logic in which an action can be assigned to a category. . 1 The conjunctive logic in which an action can be assigned to a category when its evaluation on each criterion is at least as good as the lower limit which has been deﬁned on the criterion to be in this category. This is why the conjunctive rule is usually interpreted as pessimistic while the disjunctive rule is interpreted as optimistic. for all h = 1. k. This credibility (index) is deﬁned as in ELECTRE III. we should introduce a λcutting level of the fuzzy relation in order to obtain a crisp outranking relation. if it has. After determining the credibility index. The action a and the proﬁle bh may be related to each other as follows: a) aIbh iﬀ aSbh and bh Sa b) a ≻ bh iﬀ aSbh and not bh Sa c) bh ≻ a iﬀ not aSbh and bh Sa d) aRbh iﬀ not aSbh and not bh Sa The objective of the exploitation procedure is to exploit the above binary relations. we will assume.

An action a will be assigned to the highest category Ch such that aSbh−1 . For these reasons. introducing thus an additional source of arbitrariness to the problem. . . 2 Optimistic rule. . 0. a) Compare a successively with br . 4. This leads to the assignment of arbitrary values to certain “variables”. r = 1. . in the condition “on each criterion” by “on a suﬃcient majority of criteria and in the absence of veto” in the disjunctive rule: replace. The generalization is the following. Some of the recent developments are shortly described in this Section. . b) The limit bh is the ﬁrst encountered proﬁle such that bh ≻ a. analysts hesitate . . k − 2. Assign a to category Ch . r = k − 1. Recent Developments and Future Issues Although. modelling activity frequently requires to choose between some technical options. When a is assigned to diﬀerent categories by the optimistic and pessimistic rules. . . the condition “on at least one criterion” by “on a suﬃcient minority of criteria and in the absence of veto” The two procedures can be stated as follows. in the conjunctive rule: replace. Robustness Concerns When dealing with real-world decision problems. a) Compare a successively with br . ELECTRE TRI is a generalization of the two above mentioned rules.1. In addition. several decades past since the birth of the ﬁrst ELECTRE method. 4. 2. Assign a to category Ch+1 . b) The limit bh is the ﬁrst encountered proﬁle such that aSbh . DMs and analysts are often facing with several sources of imperfect knowledge regarding the available data. An action a will be assigned to the lowest category Ch such that bh ≻ a. k − 1.18 optimistic and the pessimistic procedures. 1 Pessimistic rule. a is incomparable to all “intermediate” limits within the highest and lowest assignment categories. research on ELECTRE family method stills active today.

It is possible to distinguish among direct and indirect elicitation techniques. 116]. This is a frequent way to proceed in classical operations research methods and it is called sensitivity analysis [32. then enumerate those parameters which provoke a strong impact on the results when their values vary from the central positions. Such recommendations should be elaborated from what we call the robust conclusions (Chapter ??. for example. Then. 27.). But. [101.. if there is no a particular set of parameters. .. on the results? And. . Deﬁnition 1 A conclusion. it is frequent to deﬁne a reference system built from the assignment of central values to these two types of parameters. . Deﬁnition 2 A preference elicitation process proceeds through an interaction between DMs and analysts in which DMs express information about their preferences within a speciﬁc aggregation procedure. But. 109. Chapters ??. In practice. Elicitation of Parameter Values Implementing ELECTRE methods requires to determine values (or intervals of variation) for the preference parameters. which clearly ¯ r. 79. categories lower and upper limits. invalidates the conclusion C A robustness concern consists of all the possible ways that contribute to build synthetic recommendations based on the robust conclusions. Analysts are most often interested in building recommendations which remain acceptable for a large range of the parameters values. an exploitation procedure should be applied in order to obtain outputs which are used to elaborate recommendations. 109]).ELECTRE Methods 19 when assigning values to the preference parameters (weights. 4. and the technical parameters (discordance and concordance indices. ω ∈ Ω. Possible ways to deal with robustness concerns in ELECTRE methods are illustrated. considered separately.. 29. of possible values for the preference and technical parameters. 53. what about the meaningfulness of such recommendations? They strongly depend on the set of central values attributed to the parameters.) of ELECTRE methods. 82]. Should the analyst analyze the inﬂuence of a variation of each parameter. thresholds. in [26. ?? and ??. C r . this kind of analyzes has rather a theoretical interest than a practical one. is said to be robust with respect to a domain..2. 105. λ−cutting level. Ω.

In such cases. Recent developments concerning elicitation techniques have been proposed for the ELECTRE TRI method. . For instance. DIVAPIME [70] and SRF [35] elicitation techniques make it possible to determine the vector of the relative importance coeﬃcients from pairwise comparisons of ﬁctitious actions or a relative importance ranking of criteria.1 Direct Elicitation Techniques.20 4. 4. The induced mathematical programming model to be solved is..1): Concordant coalition parameters: weights and λ−cutting level [72]. This is why ELECTRE methods are usually implemented by using indirect elicitation procedures. we will refer to such a case by complete inference. A major drawback of such techniques is that it is diﬃcult to understand the precise meaning of the assertions of the DMs.e. On the contrary. its resolution is computationally diﬃcult for real-world problems. Discordance related parameters: veto thresholds [28]. Indirect elicitation techniques do not require from DMs to provide answers to questions related to the values of the preference parameters. it is possible to infer a subset of parameters only (see Figure 1. these techniques proceeds indirectly by posing questions whose answers can be interpreted through the aggregation procedure. Inference procedures have been developed to elicit the parameters values from assignment examples. 60]. however.2.2 Indirect Elicitation Techniques. non-linear.2. i. In direct elicitation procedures DMs should provide information directly on the values of the preference parameters. Such techniques make use of the disaggregation paradigm [51. Thus. It is possible to infer all the preference parameters simultaneously [74]. Category limits [76]. an assignment that is imposed by DMs on speciﬁc actions.

1.ELECTRE Methods ELECTRE TRI 21 Inferring from examples Direct elicitation Partial inference Complete inference Inferring weights Figure 1. 98. ELECTRE TRI Assistant which enables the user to deﬁne the weights indirectly. Inferring veto Inferring category limits Inferring parameter values for ELECTRE TRI 5. 2000. ELECTRE III-IV. Me. ﬁxing the model parameters by giving some assignment examples (corresponding to desired assignments or past decisions).1.lamsade. 2 ELECTRE III-IV is a software which implements ELECTRE III and ELECTRE IV methods described in Section 3. Millennium and XP. i. This software runs on a IBM-compatible computer on Windows 98 and higher. It runs on Windows 3. The ELECTRE TRI software versions 2. Software and Applications The implementation of ELECTRE methods in real-world decision problems involving DMs requires software packages. 98.1.. XP and NT. Hence. This software implements ELECTRE TRI method described in Section 3. 3 ELECTRE TRI is a multiple criteria decision aiding tool designed to deal with sorting problems. ELECTRE TRI Assistant reduces the cognitive eﬀort required from the DM to elicit the preference parameters. 95.fr/english/ software.1. Some of them are widely used in large ﬁrms and universities. 2000.e. The weights are thus inferred through a certain form of regression. .x were developed with the C++ programming language and runs on Microsoft Windows 3. in particular ELECTRE IS. This software integrates. Among the software available at LAMSADE are (http://www.2. It is an implementation of ELECTRE IS described in Section 3.html): 1 ELECTRE IS is a generalization of ELECTRE I.3. 95. ELECTRE TRI and IRIS.dauphine.

12. 73. Interactive Robustness analysis and parameters’ Inference for multiple criteria Sorting problems. 144. The software ELECTRE IS. 110. 21. 24. Me. 140] 6 Project selection (call for tenders): [13. 80. 107].22 4 IRIS. 62. 85. ELECTRE methods were successful applied in many areas. while e IRIS and SRF result from a collaborative project between researchers from LAMSADE and the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra / INESC-Coimbra (Portugal). 111. 83. 126] 3 Environment and Water Management: [12. 59. 23. This DSS has been built to support the assignment of actions described by their evaluation on multiple criteria to a set of predeﬁned ordered categories. 125. 19. Me. 41. 56. 5 SFR was designed to determine the relative importance coeﬃcients for ELECTRE family methods. 129. 132. 121. 131] 2 Energy: [8. IRIS allows to enter constraints on these values. 107. 86. 116] 8 Varia: [33. IRIS infers parameter values and allows to draw robust conclusions by indicating the range of assignments (for each action) that do not contradict any constraint. using a variant of ELECTRE TRI. NT and XP. When the constraints are compatible with multiple assignments for the actions. 31. 30. 137]. 7 Transportation: [11. . 112. 128. 54. 9. III-IV. 48. 46. 45. 65. 145. Rather than demanding precise values for the model’s parameters. 114. Universit´ Paris-Dauphine (France). 143. TRI and TRI Assistant were developed under a collaborative project between researchers from the Institute of Computing Science of the Technical University of Poznan (Poland) and LAMSADE. 131. 81. 118. 130. 146] 5 Military: [6. Simos) and try to assess these coeﬃcients by questioning the DM in an indirect way. IRIS tells the user where is the source of inconsistency. 77. 1 Agriculture and Forest Management: [4. 61. 47. 38. 2000 and XP. 78. 36. If it is not possible to fulﬁll all of the constraints.0 and runs on Windows 98. 44. 124. 34. 118. 2000. 39. 88. It was developed with the Delphi Borland 3. It is based on a very simple procedure (the pack of cards technique created by J. 40. 108. 40. 58] 4 Finance: [3. namely assignment examples that it tries to restore. It was developed with Delphi Borland and runs on Windows 98.

ELECTRE methods experienced a widespread and large use in real-world situations. On the other side. mainly in Europe. Chapters ?? and ??).May 2003). the development of ELECTRE methods is strongly connected with the birth of the European Working Group of Multiple Criteria Decision Aiding (www. and provoked the development of other outranking methods (see. robustness analysis [26. The ﬁrst author was also supported by the grant SFRH/BDP/6800/2001 (Funda¸ao para a Ciˆncia e Tecc˜ e nologia. 42]. Most importantly. as well as other complementary multiple criteria methodologies (see. ELECTRE methods. parameters elicitation techniques [74]. Despite their almost four decades of existence. research stills active in this ﬁeld. 27. Acknowledgments This work has beneﬁted from the Luso-French grant no 500B4 (ICCTI/ Ambassade de France au Portugal). in 1965 (see [10]).inescc. Conclusion Since their ﬁrst appearance. for example. .pt/ ∼ewgmcda/). had a strong impact on the Operational Research community. We can also mention some of recent developments and avenues for future research: generalization of the concordance and nondiscordance methods [133]. for example. Portugal) and gratefully acknowledges DIMACS Research Center at Rutgers University for the welcome during his sabbatical leave (August 2002 . interaction between criteria [66. The authors are thankful to Dominique Champ-Brunet for the many valuable references she provided. on one side.Acknowledgements 23 6. Chapters ?? and ??). multiple DMs and social interaction [22]. 29].

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