This paper examines mechanisms underlying the phenomenon that, under some conditions, adaptive one-factor-at-a-time experiments outperform fractional factorial experiments in improving the performance of mechanical engineering systems. Five case studies are presented, each based on data from previously published full factorial physical experiments at two levels. Computer simulations of adaptive one-factor-at-a-time and fractional factorial experiments were carried out with varying degrees of pseudo-random error. For each of the five case studies, the average outcomes are plotted for both approaches as a function of the strength of the pseudo-random error. The main effects and interactions of the experimental factors in each system are presented and analyzed to illustrate how the observed simulation results arise. The case studies show that, for certain arrangements of main effects and interactions, adaptive one-factor-at-a-time experiments exploit interactions with high probability despite the fact that these designs lack the resolution to estimate interactions. Generalizing from the case studies, four mechanisms are described and the conditions are stipulated under which these mechanisms act.
The Mechanisms by Which Adaptive One-factor-at-a-time Experimentation Leads to Improvement
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Frey, D. D., and Jugulum, R. (August 31, 2005). "The Mechanisms by Which Adaptive One-factor-at-a-time Experimentation Leads to Improvement." ASME. J. Mech. Des. September 2006; 128(5): 1050–1060. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2216733
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