Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis for Combat Simulation Study

Location: Edinburgh, SA

Duration: 4-6 months

Proposed start date: ASAP

Please note: Due to funding requirements, students must have Australian or New Zealand Citizenship or Permanent Residency to apply. Any applicants not meeting this requirement will automatically be deemed ineligible for this project.

Project Background

DST Group use combat simulation to explore the potential impact of modifying technologies, tactics, concepts, and force structures in the context of military operations. Combat simulation requires modelling the physical characteristic of the terrain and one’s own and opposing forces, and behaviours that represent military tactics, techniques, and procedures for manoeuvre and engagement. The mission effectiveness of a combat system is then approximated from the stochastic simulation output. Ranking and selection is the analytical problem of determining the best military system from a finite set of options (with a specified probability of correct selection) by statistical analysis of a designed combat simulation experiment. Defence Decision-Makers (DMs) can use the outcomes from a ranking and selection analysis as evidence to support future defence capability acquisitions.

However, the Defence ranking and selection problem is characterised by a number of problematic aspects: operational effectiveness is often represented by multi-criteria metrics and not single measures; uncertainty and imprecision are common in combat simulation criteria measurement and DMs preferences; and standard ranking and selection procedures from simulations are normally limited to the independent and identically distributed (iid) assumption, which is not necessarily true for combat simulations.

Consequently, it is desirable to develop a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) methodology to support upcoming decisions for operational capability of future defence capability options. An efficient and robust stochastic MCDA model with interdependency would enhance the analysis of combat simulations including ranking and selection of the best option based on multiple responses from combat simulation, thereby increasing their usefulness to a wider scope of problems. This would result in enhancements to DST Group’s capacity and capability to use combat simulation as a decision analysis tool.

DST Group is seeking researchers with expertise in computational mathematics, statistics or operations research. This problem will require the researcher to discover and apply a combination of conventional and new concepts to deliver a successful solution.

The researcher will be tasked with exploring generic examples of such solutions which can be consistently implemented across a range of simulations. The actual implementation and testing of such solutions in combat simulation will be executed in collaboration with technical simulation subject matter experts (SMEs).

Research to be Conducted

Currently, the stochastic multi-criteria acceptability analysis (SMAA) has been explored by DST for assisting this decision problem. Uncertainties are treated using a probability distribution function and Monte Carlo simulation in the model. Moreover, the concept of the “feasible weight space (FWS),” which represents the union of all preference information from DMs, has been applied in combination with other weighting techniques such as the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP).

The research to be conducted includes:

  • Investigating the impact of the iid assumptions on the current ranking and selection procedure, based a single simulation response metric and propose a procedure to overcome any limitations.
  • Reviewing current approaches to select the best option based on multiple simulation response metrics and extend these approach to the MCDA problem with interdependent response metrics and uncertainty in DM’s preference. To the best of our knowledge, this Defence decision problem has not been thoroughly studied.
  • Investigating the feasibility of combining the proposed procedures in 1. and 2. (optional).

Skills Required

We are looking for a PhD student with the following:


  • Expertise in Statistics, Computational Mathematics or Operation Research
  • Familiarity with programming or scripting


  • Proficiency in at least one programming or scripting language
  • Military domain knowledge or experience

Expected Outcomes

Expected outcomes of this project include:

  1. A review report on the procedures of selecting the best option for simulation in general and identifying the limitations of the statistical assumption when applying these procedures to combat simulation.
  2. A developed procedure to overcome the identified limitations and demonstrate the benefit via a case study.
  3. A report on the feasibility of extending current DST approach on combining SMAA, FWS and AHP to the MCDA problem with interdependent criteria and uncertainty in DM’s preference in combat simulation.

Additional Details

The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 80% of their time on-site with the industry partner.  The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.

Applications Close

28 August 2019


APR – 1118