New decision software hailed 'internationally leading'

11/23/04

A new computer programme that can help make intelligent judgements is set to advance the way we make decisions. The software's methodology, developed by a team led by Professor Jian-Bo Yang at The University of Manchester, could eventually be used in a wide range of fields, from measuring the excellence of an organisation to comparing the productivity of nations.

Professor Yang, head of the Decision Sciences and Operations Management group at Manchester Business School, explained: "If you were buying a car you would look at the various indicators, like price, reliability, performance and fuel economy.

"This programme can help you make a decision based on judgements as well as statistics, so if you're rich and price is not that important to you but reliability is, it will weigh these factors into the equation."

This, he says, is particularly important for companies or organisations, where decisions have to be justified, as the programme would also give reasons why, say, one fleet of cars was chosen over another.

The research into the software's methodology was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which has hailed it "internationally leading" in its potential scientific impact with possible "outstanding" benefits to society.

"There have been statistical-analysis programmes before but they have their limits," said Professor Yang. "For example, with food quality, individuals taste the food so the results can be very different and completely subjective.

"This software is able to make use of such judgemental information in the decision-making process – that is what makes it unique."

He says the software's applications are manifold and future research projects include the analysis of human errors in engineering equipment, food-quality analysis, new-product development, risk and safety analysis, performance assessment, resource allocation, environmental impact analysis and a comparison of the productivity of nations.

"Trade-off analysis is important in a great number of fields and this software can be adapted to suit many research projects. We are now hoping to find collaborators from inside and outside the university to put the programme to good use."

Source: Eurekalert & others

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