The Eigenvector in Lay Language



Published Dec 31, 2010
Thomas L. Saaty


Decision making depends on identifying a structure of criteria and alternatives of a decision. It also depends on experience and judgments to select the best alternative. In the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) for decision making the criteria and alternatives are prioritized by forming matrices of judgments and from these judgments priorities are derived for each matrix in the form of the principal eigenvector. An eigenvector is a technical mathematical idea that would benefit from a simplifying explanation. That is what this note does - in two ways.


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AHP, decision making, principal eigenvector

Saaty, T. L., (1996). Decision Making with Dependence and Feedback: The Analytic
Network Process. Pittsburgh, PA: RWS Publications.
Harker, P.T. & L.G. Vargas (1987). The theory of ratio scale estimation: Saaty’s Analytic
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