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Decision-Making under Uncertainty: Be Aware of your Priorities

Samin, Huma and Bencomo, Nelly and Sawyer, Pete (2022) 'Decision-Making under Uncertainty: Be Aware of your Priorities.', Software and Systems Modeling, 21 (6). pp. 2213-2242.


Self-adaptive systems (SASs) are increasingly leveraging autonomy in their decision-making to manage uncertainty in their operating environments. A key problem with SASs is ensuring their requirements remain satisfied as they adapt. The trade-off analysis of the non-functional requirements (NFRs) is key to establish balance among them. Further, when performing the trade-offs it is necessary to know the importance of each NFR to be able to resolve conflicts among them. Such trade-off analyses are often built upon optimisation methods, including decision analysis and utility theory. A problem with these techniques is that they use a single-scalar utility value to represent the overall combined priority for all the NFRs. However, this combined scalar priority value may hide information about the impacts of the environmental contexts on the individual NFRs’ priorities, which may change over time. Hence, there is a need for support for runtime, autonomous reasoning about the separate priority values for each NFR, while using the knowledge acquired based on evidence collected. In this paper, we propose Pri-AwaRE, a self-adaptive architecture that makes use of Multi-Reward Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (MR-POMDP) to perform decision-making for SASs while offering awareness of NFRs’ priorities. MR-POMDP is used as a priority-aware runtime specification model to support runtime reasoning and autonomous tuning of the distinct priority values of NFRs using a vector-valued reward function. We also evaluate the usefulness of our Pri-AwaRE approach by applying it to two substantial example applications from the networking and IoT domains.

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Publisher statement:Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date accepted:22 November 2021
Date deposited:07 February 2022
Date of first online publication:25 January 2022
Date first made open access:07 February 2022

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