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Many technological, industrial or economical systems are described by discrete event system (DES) models. The decision making processes that arise in the design and operation of this kind of systems can be afforded by means of algorithmic methodologies. A large range of approaches based on the simulation of the behavior of the system have been reported to answer this problem. Their main advantage consists of being applicable to most of the systems. An important drawback is the significant computational resources required to perform an exhaustive exploration of the state space due to the combinatorial explosion. A manual choice of a reduced set of configurations to be simulated can be improved by the use of parametric Petri nets and a metaheuristic search of the most promising ones. In this paper, a review of some definitions of parametric Petri net found in the literature is presented, as well as a definition for the general framework of stating optimization problems of both, the operation and the design of the model of the DES. Moreover, a methodology to obtain such a parametric Petri net, called compound Petri net, from an easier-to-obtain set of alternative Petri nets is proposed and an application example is given.