Basic theory of the Analytic Hierarchy Process: How to make a decision

Thomas Saaty
Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business
University of Pittsburgh
United States

Publication date: Jan, 1999

Journal: Revista de la Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas Fisicas y Naturales
Vol.: 93- Issue: 4- Pages: 395-423

Abstract: An assumption arising from the practice of science and engineering since the middle ages is that because nature is physical, we should be able to relate all measurement to physical dimensions. But that is not true. Human thinking and feeling exist in the physical world but they are not matter or gravity or electromagnetism in the strict sense science understands them today. They are intangible. The human experience involves a very large number of intangibles. In general and with few exceptions, intangibles cannot be measured on a physical scale. However, they can be measured in relative terms through comparison with other tangibles or intangibles with respect to attributes they have in common (taken one at a time) and a ratio scale can be derived from them that yields their relative measurement values. The attributes are themselves compared as to their importance with respect to still higher attributes, relative measures derived, and so on up to an overall goal.

Keywords: Measurement, Intangibles, Analytic Hierarchy Process, AHP