The essence of decision-aiding software is that it consists of various forms of microcomputer programming designed to enable users to process a set of (1) goals to be achieved, (2) alternatives available for achieving them, and (3) relations between goals and alternatives in order to choose the best alternative, combination, allocation, or predictive decision-rule. Benefits from using decision-aiding software include (1) being more explicit about goals to be achieved, alternatives available for achieving them, and relations between goals and alternatives; (2) being stimulated to think of more goals, alternatives, and relations than one would otherwise be likely to do; (3) being prepared to handle multiple goals, alternatives, and relations without getting confused and without feeling the need to resort to a single composite goal or a single go/no-go alternative; (4) being encouraged to experiment with changes in the inputs into one's thinking to see how one's conclusions are affected; and (5) being better able to achieve or exceed one's goals when choosing among alternatives or allocating scarce resources.
There are five parts to the book covering: (1) a broad overview of decision-aiding packages, including criteria for evaluating them; (2) approaches that are based on management science and operations research, including linear programming and decision trees; (3) spreadsheet-based software, generally with goals on the columns, alternatives on the rows, relations in the cells, overall totals for each alternative at the far right, and a capability for indicating how the totals would be altered as a result of changes in the inputs; (4) expert systems software including rule-based and knowledge-based expert systems; and (5) general applications of decision-aiding software and a discussion of the increasing utilization of such software.
About the Author
STUART S. NAGEL is a professor of political science at the University of Illinois and the publications coordinator of the Policy Studies Organization. He is the author or editor of such revelant books as Multi-Criteria Methods for Alternative Dispute Resolution: With Microcomputer Software Applications (Quorum Books, 1991), Decision-Aiding Software and Legal Decision-Making: A Guide to Skills and Applications throughout the Law (Quorum Books, 1989), and Public Administration and Decision-Aiding Software: Improving Procedure and Substance (Greenwood Press, 1990). He is the president of a software development firm called Decision Aids, Inc. He conducts training courses in the use of decision-aiding software for government agencies, scholarly associations, and overseas governments. He has applied decision-aiding software in such contexts as being a special master for computer-aided mediation to the Federal District Courts.
Table of Contents
Part One: Comparing across Software Packages
Part Two: Approaches Based on Management Science/Operations Research
Part Three: Spreadsheet-based Software
Part Four: Expert Systems Software
Part Five: General Applications and Utilization