Posted by

Ideas from Measurement Theory for Quantifying Intangibles

Research Track



Measurement theory, the mathematical study of measurement scales, helps us quantify attributes consistently with: 1) the attributes’ “key properties”; and 2) how we intend to use the attributes.

Psychologists, economists, and mathematicians originally developed measurement theory to provide a rigorous basis for quantifying intangible attributes, such as subjective probability and utility. The theory similarly has promise for quantifying intangibles in which the cost community has novel interests, such as “complexity”, “difficulty”, “technology level” and “design heritage”.

In this presentation I report on progress in making these applications, including: 1) characterizing these attributes “key properties” and how they affect measurement scales; and 2) using the measurement theory concept of “meaningfulness” to limit how we can use the quantified attributes in estimates and analyses.


Mitch Robinson, D.Sc., CCEA
Wyle, Inc.
Dr. Robinson is a space systems cost analyst with Wyle. He holds a SCEA certification, a BA in psychology from Rutgers University, and a doctorate in operations research from the George Washington University. As part of his doctoral preparations, he studied decision theory with Richard Soland (George Washington University) and measurement theory with Fred Roberts (Rutgers University).