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The Foundations of Decision Analysis

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1 Author(s)
Howard, R.A. ; Department of Engineering-Economic Systems, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.

Decision analysis has emerged from theory to practice to form a discipline for balancing the many factors that bear upon a decision. Unusual features of the discipline are the treatment of uncertainty through subjective probability and of attitude toward risk through utility theory. Capturing the structure of problem relationships occupies a central position; the process can be visualized in a graphical problem space. These features are combined with other preference measures to produce a useful conceptual model for analyzing decisions, the decision analysis cycle. In its three phases¿deterministic, probabilistic, and informational¿the cycle progressively determines the importance of variables in deterministic, probabilistic, and economic environments. The ability to assign an economic value to the complete or partial elimination of uncertainty through experimentation is a particularly important characteristic. Recent applications in business and government indicate that the increased logical scope afforded by decision analysis offers new opportunities for rationality to those who wish it.

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Systems Science and Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 3 )