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Suboptimization refers to the analysis to assist a lower level decision as a step toward the attainment of a higher level objective to which the lower level decision is to contribute. Thus, an optimization of a city's streetcar operations would be a suboptimization if the higher level aim is to optimize the entire public transportation system. Analysts and decision makers must always suboptimize--that is, consider actions that pertain to only part of the elements that enter a problem--neglecting some things and fixing other arbitrarily. Even if all suboptimization problems relevant for a higher level problem are successfully solved, this will not mean, usually, that the higher level problem will be optimized. One could usually do better by treating all partial problems and their interrelationships simultaneously. (IIASA) (see principle of suboptimization)

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