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                   D. J. Power, Editor
           January 15, 2006 -- Vol. 7, No. 2

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* Ask Dan! - Report from National Sun Yat-Sen University
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Ask Dan!

Report from National Sun Yat-Sen University
by Dan Power

From December 17, 2005 to January 8, 2006, I visited Taiwan and more
specifically the southern port city of Kaohsiung. I was invited to
spend 3 weeks as a Visiting Scholar at National Sun Yat-Sen
University (NSYSU) by Professor T.P. Liang. Our plan was to work on
some joint research projects related to Decision Support Systems.

My host, Ting-Peng Liang (T.P.), is the National Chair Professor and
Director of Electronic Commerce Research Center at NSYSU. Professor
Liang is probably the most visible and influential DSS researcher in
Asia. He is a prolific scholar and most recently co-authored with
Efraim Turban and Jay Aronson the seventh edition of a textbook
titled Decision Support and Intelligent Systems (2004).

Facing west toward Hsitzu Bay and the Taiwan Strait, National Sun
Yat-sen University has a beautiful campus with the Port of Kaohsiung
lying to the south and east and Mount Chai rising to the north. NSYSU
has approximately 10,000 students and graduate students comprise about
half of the student body. For more about the University check

The beautiful setting, 70 degree weather and sunshine was a welcome
relief from the snow and cold in Iowa. As always, the long plane
rides, security checks and waits in airports to change planes is the
downside of International travel. 

My office was in the College of Management and I was a Visiting
Scholar in the Department of Information Management and the
Electronic Commerce Research Center. The Department of Information
Management has approximately 20 faculty. Professor Nian-Shing Chen is
the Chair of the department.

What about the projects? 

Professor Liang invited me to participate in two ongoing projects.
One involves an empirical study of the impact of Knowledge Management
(KM) activities on firm performance and the other is a conceptual
paper on time-constrained model selection.

The KM project has been ongoing for about 2 1/2 years. During my
visit I reviewed all aspects of the design, data collection and
current analyses. One of the first big tasks Professor Liang and I
tackled with the assistance of Yen-Ching OuYang, a Ph.D. student who
has worked on the project from its inception, was translating the
survey questionnaire into English. Yen-Ching prepared an initial
translation, then I tried to improve the English word choice; Prof.
Liang reviewed the translation and prepared a second translation.
Then we used Babelfish ( and prepared a
machine translation from Mandarin into English. After more
wordsmithing, reverse translation and critical analysis we finalized
the translation. This long process made it possible for me to examine
the constructs in the questionnaire and interpret the statistical
analysis and results. I probably worked 100 hours on the overall
project while I was at NSYSU. We are nearing completion of a working
paper titled "Effects of Knowledge Management Process Activities on
Perceived Performance: An Empirical Examination".

On the second project I was working with Prof. Liang and Ching-Chang
Lee, an Associate Professor at National Kaohsiung First University of
Science and Technology. Prof. Lee completed his dissertation under
Prof. Liang's supervision. This project did not receive as much time
and attention as needed for a number of reasons, but some progress
was made. We are examining the broad issue of how to support DSS
users who must select among multiple models to analyze a specific
decision in a time-constrained situation. The Internet, Web services,
and application service providers make it relatively easy to include
multiple models with varying data requirements in a model-driven DSS.
For example, the NEOS server for optimization (
has 14 categories of optimization software that can be accessed using
the Internet including linear programming, integer programming,
network optimization and quadratic programming. The conceptual
approach in this project uses time as a primary metric to make the
selection about the most appropriate model component in each specific
decision instance. TIME is a complex metric involving collecting data
for the parameters, constructing and explicating the actual model,
computing the initial solution and results, performing sensitivity
and "what if?" analyses, etc. For example, in a bidding situation in
a time-constrained auction environment, multiple models could
potentially be used to evaluate the maximum bid amount in the context
of a dynamic bidding environment. A similar situation might occur in
some military command and control situations. Once the bidding
begins, an initial solution from one or more models may need to be
revised with new data and alternative model formulations may become
more or less appropriate. The DSS user then needs to select a "new"
model or revise prior analyses under the time-constraint.

What else was learned? 

One goal I had for my visit was increasing the amount of Mandarin
language content materials at Ideally a knowledge
repository should support users in their native languages.
Specifically, I'd like to have at a minimum key Ask Dan FAQs
translated. My son Alex, who is studying Mandarin and is the
Webmaster at joined me at NSYSU for 8 days to
investigate this possibility and to provide me some company for
social activities. He made a few contacts with students and helped
with Babelfish, but this goal remains an ambitious one.

I have not been doing much interactive data analysis in recent years,
but it was great to watch Yen-Ching use SPSS on a portable PC to
prepare data analyses. Data analysis is so much easier and faster
than in the days when I used mainframes and even desktop PCs for
SPSS. Interpreting the results is still difficult and perhaps it is
even more important now to be slow and deliberate to check that no
errors or problems occur with the data or analyses.

Almost everyday while I was at NSYSU, I used email and chat on MSN
Messenger to communicate with my wife and sons in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The time difference is 14 hours and so having a synchronous chat
usually happened for me in the morning which was evening back in
Cedar Falls. Chat is so much slower than using the telephone and my
"hunt and peck" typing made it worse. It was an inexpensive
substitute and it did create a record of our conversation. One
problem with IM involving acronyms became clear when I returned to
Cedar Falls. I was routinely signing off with LOL thinking that meant
"Lots of Love". My wife thought LOL meant "Laugh out Loud".

Well in three weeks one does so much, but I'll just mention a ferry
ride to Chi-chin Island for a fresh sea food lunch, visits to the
Jade Market and Night Market in Kaohsiung and an Aloha Bus ride to
Taipei as highlights. The long distance buses in Taiwan hold about 20
passengers in great comfort with TV and a stewardess onboard. If only
I could have taken the bus all the way back to Cedar Falls. At the
Jade market, I was looking for items for my collections, especially
Chinese coins and currency. The problem with counterfeit or
reproduction Chinese coins is increasing so I didn't buy much.

Let me close by specifically thanking Prof. T. P. Liang who was a
gracious host and a good collaborator. He also secured the funding
for my trip. Also, many thanks to Yen-Ching, Ching-Chang
and all of the wonderful people I met.

Zai jian.


Turban, E., J.A. Aronson, and T.P. Liang, Decision Support and
Systems, Seventh Edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall,


          Purchase Dan Power's DSS FAQ book 
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 DSS Conferences 

 1. ISCRAM2006, the Third International Conference on Information 
Systems for Crisis Response and Management, Newark, New Jersey, USA, 
at the New Jersey Institute of Technology from May 14-17, 2006.
Check .

 2. ICKEDS 2006, the Second International Conference on Knowledge
Engineering and Decision Support, Lisbon, Portugal, May 9-12, 2006.
Check .

 3. CIDMDS 2006, International Conference on Creativity and
Innovation in Decision Making and Decision Support 
sponsored by IFIP WG 8.3, June 28th - July 1st 2006, London,
UK. Check .

 4. DEXA 2006, 17th International Conference on Database 
and Expert Systems Applications, September 4-8, 
2006, Krakow, Poland. Check .

 5. ICDSS 2007, 9th International Conference on DSS, Jan. 2-4, 2007, 
Calcutta, India. Theme: Decision Support for Global Enterprises.
Check . Papers due May 10, 2006.


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