Decision Making

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What is a Decision?

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Decision making is a process of choosing an option from alternatives. Achieving the choice can be either risky (include some uncertainties) or certain. Usually decision process concentrates on choosing the best alternative. The best alternative can be determined by calculating and comparing the utility values and the probabilities of the choices.

Types of Decisions

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A   B
0 0 0
0 1 1
1 0 1
1 1 0

In the context of Artificial Intelligence, computer scientists, software engineers and programmers deal with the ways machines make decisions. The simplest desision has a multiplicity of one-to-one (1::1), where only two possible choices exist: true or false; yes or no; one or zero; etc.. The two results are said to be mutually exclusive, thought of in human terms as "either, but not both" and "one or the other". Some terms for this type of desision are:

  • Exclusive OR (XOR)
  • mutex (short for mutual exclusion)
  • boolean as in Boolean Algebra
  • ...

In Topic:Web Design, a common means to allow a Human to enter the answer to a yes or no question is the checkbox.

Color-coded regions of the world based on the seven commonly-recognised continents
A simple form showing most of the html form elements

The next type of decision has a multiplicity of one-to-many (1::n), where one of several choices exist:

  • Color: red, yellow, blue, ...
  • yes, no, no preference (mutex with a "doesn't matter" choice)
  • Time Zone range: (UTC +12 ... UTC ... UTC-12)
  • Continent: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, N. America, S. America
  • ...

Again, these choice are exclusive in that only one of the several choices is allowed. These are sometimes processes by a program or algorithm as conditional variables or set as parameters. Some terms for this type of desicion are:

  • Selection - choose only one please
  • condvar (short for conditional variable)
  • parameter - setting a value for a variable
  • ...

For processing dynamic websites with PHP, a choice can be entered by way of a radio button or drop-down list to allow the user to make his or her choice.

Learning Tasks

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  • (Logic and Fuzzy Logic - Inference System) Logical rules (combinations of AND, OR, NOT, ...) can be used to expressed a logical structure. Compare the classical logic and its inference with Fuzzy Logic and its inference system.
    • What are the difference and joint properties of classical Logic and Fuzyy Logic?
    • What are use-cases in which you would use classical logic for decision making and what are use cases in which you would use Fuzzy Logic?
  • (Spatial Decision Support System) What are Spatial Decision Support Systems and identify uses cases in which you would consider e.g. a spatial distribution of risk and a spatial distribution of the availability of resources?
    • Assume you have a property that can be evaluated at a specific geolocation (e.g. coordinates of the location (latitude, longitude)). How can you combine a logic property spatially? What is different if you use Fuzzy Logic for that spatial property ?
    • Transfer decision making to a spatial context of Risk Management. Use your own application scenario and take as decision task: "Allocate the limited available resources according to the risk".

Programs and Algorithms

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Programmes and algorithms are used to support decision makers in finding the best decision option according to the criteria the institution of organisation defines.

  • Analyse the concept of Dynamic Document Generation to create up-to-data reports for decision making.
  • What is the role of Geographic Information Systems to support spatial decision making?
  • Analyse e.g. existing OpenSource R packages that can be used for an algorithmic implementation of decision support.
  • What are decisions that can be performed by an algorithm or software and what are decision in which the decision maker should remain a human decision maker? Discuss also legal aspects of responsibility for decisions making, that was performed by a piece of software.

See also

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