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A criterion is a rule or standard by which to rank the alternatives in order of desirability. The use of "criterion" to mean "objective" is incorrect. See objective. (IIASA)
Generally, any standard by which something is judged. In logic it is a contingent condition neither necessary nor sufficient for the truth of the judgement but a reliable indication thereof. In regulation, the degree to which the process to be confined approximates or matches the criterion determines the amount of information that needs to be processed. (Krippendorff)
Criteria are normative requirements which should be met, e.g. by a technical device or a technology. A criterion is detailed and specific, whereas an objective is more general. In terms of generality a four level hierarchy can be constructed by using the concepts of criteria (most specific and concrete), objectives, goals, and values (most general and abstract). (Hornung)
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