A Multi-Agent System for Recommending Customized Families of Products

A Multi-Agent System for Recommending Customized Families of Products

Seung Ki Moon (Texas A&M University, USA), Timothy W. Simpson (The Pennsylvania State University, USA) and Soundar R.T. Kumara (The Pennsylvania State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-260-2.ch004
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Electronic markets and web-based content have improved traditional product development processes by increasing the participation of customers and applying various recommender systems to satisfy individual customer needs. This chapter introduces a multi-agent system to support customized product family design by recommending customers’ preferences in dynamic electronic market environments. In the proposed system, a market-based learning mechanism is applied to determine the customers’ preferences for recommending appropriate products to customers in the product family. The authors demonstrate the implementation of the proposed recommender system using a multi-agent framework. Through experiments, they illustrate that the proposed recommender system can determine the preference values of products for customized recommendation and market segment design in various electronic market environments.
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2. Background

A product family is a group of related products based on a product platform, facilitating mass customization by providing a variety of products for different market segments cost-effectively (Simpson et al. 2005). A product platform is the set of features, components or subsystems that remain constant from product to product, within a given product family. A successful product family depends on how well the trade-off between the economic benefits and performance losses incurred from having a shared platform are managed. There are two recognized approaches to product family design (Simpson et al., 2001): (1) a top-down (proactive platform) approach and (2) a bottom-up (reactive redesign) approach. In the top-down approach, a company’s strategy provides a guide line for developing a family of products based on a product platform and its derivatives. Meanwhile, the bottom-up approach is focused on redesigning and/or consolidating a group of distinct products to standardize components for sharing and reusing. In platform-based product development, two common types for product families are module-based product family and scale-based product family (Simpson et al., 2001). Products in a module-based product family are obtained by adding, substituting, and/or removing one or more modules from the platform. In a scale-based product family, products are created by scaling one or more variables related to the platform design to satisfy a variety of market niches.

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