OR Spectrum

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 3–37 | Cite as

Survey of methods to visualize alternatives in multiple criteria decision making problems

Regular Article


When solving decision problems where multiple conflicting criteria are to be considered simultaneously, decision makers must compare several different alternatives and select the most preferred one. The task of comparing multidimensional vectors is very demanding for the decision maker without any support. Different graphical visualization tools can be used to support and help the decision maker in understanding similarities and differences between the alternatives and graphical illustration is a very important part of decision support systems that are used in solving multiple criteria decision making problems. The visualization task is by no means trivial because, on the one hand, the graphics must be easy to comprehend and not too much information should be lost but, on the other hand, no extra unintentional information should be included. In this paper, we survey and analyze different ways of visualizing a small set of discrete alternatives graphically in the context of multiple criteria decision making. Some of the ways discussed are widely used and some others deserve to be brought into a wider awareness. This survey provides a starting point for all those who deal with multiple criteria decision making problems and need information of what kind of visualization techniques could be put to use in order to support the decision maker better.


Comparison of alternatives Visualization Graphical illustration Discrete alternatives Multiobjective optimization Pareto optimality Multicriteria optimization Interactive methods Decision analysis MCDM 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematical Information TechnologyUniversity of JyväskyläUniversity of JyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Optimization and Systems Theory, Department of MathematicsKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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