DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
              April 22, 2001 -- Vol. 2, No. 9
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM
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* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! -- Why are transportation problems popular applications for 
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories
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DSS Wisdom
In his book Decision and Control, Stafford Beer (1966) identified three 
stages in the recognition of a system. He noted "we acknowledge 
particular relationships which are obtrusive: this turns a mere 
collection into something that may be called an assemblage.  Secondly, 
we detect a pattern in the set of relationships concerned: this turns an 
assemblage into a systematically arranged assemblage.  Thirdly, we 
perceive a purpose served by this arrangement: and there is a system." 
(p. 242)
Beer, S., Decision and Control, London: John Wiley and Sons, 1966. 
Ask Dan!
Why are transportation problems popular applications for DSS?
In the early 1970s, many researchers were trying to apply mathematical 
programming to business problems. The transportation problem was often 
discussed as an application that would benefit from computerization. 
Why? I think it is because this type of problem can be formulated 
quantitatively and because such problems are often complex enough to 
benefit from using a model. Also, the allocation of transportation 
resources among competing uses is of interest to business 
decision-makers in a number of different industries. In general, 
real-world transportation problems are often important! 
We have seen many different software programs for solving transportation 
problems, but the basic need remains the same. Managers want help in 
allocating a scarce resource. The basic problem formulation (cf., 
Hitchcock, 1941) has been adapted and expanded to a number of 
situations. A major application is scheduling airline routes. The 
following examples help explain why solving transportation problems are 
important to airlines. 
David Field in USAToday on April 19, 1999 explained briefly how airlines 
make decisions about adding flights.  Continental Airlines bases its 
route and schedule decisions on daily ticket data. Continental uses a 
computer program developed by American Airlines' Sabre unit. Field 
quoted Robert Merz, director of network operations at United, "You 
schedule to maximize profit ..."
At about the same time, Jessica Davis reported in InfoWorld that using 
the "Broadbase data mart, United's staff of 60 analyst/schedulers, 
typically MBA/economists, can load 'what if' scenarios -- testing 
whether a new flight to Chicago would be more profitable using a larger 
or a smaller aircraft". She noted schedulers take into consideration 
passenger demand, constraints of airports, the maintenance needs of the 
aircraft, the cost of flying individual aircraft, crew resources, and 
other factors.
Davis quoted Bob Bongiorno, United Airline director of research and 
development, "Scheduling is the single most important thing we do at 
this airline." Bongiorno said "We've got to fly to the right places with 
the right frequency at the right times to make money."
Recently, Southwest Airlines implemented CALEB(TM) Technologies' 
CrewSolver DSS to reduce the cost from traffic control delays and 
mechanical and weather-related disruptions. For more information, check 
the April 9, 2001 press release from CALEB Technologies at 
So using Model-Driven DSS to solve transportation problems can improve 
profitability!! On a cautionary note Professor N. K. Kwak noted almost 
30 years ago that "mathematical programming provides quantitative bases 
for management decisions -- bases with which management manipulates and 
controls various activities to achieve the optimal outcomes of business 
problems. Management can make better and more effective judgment by use 
of mathematical programming.  However, it is no substitute for the 
decision maker's ultimate judgment." (p. 6)
AND in response to a related question:
What is a computer-aided routing system (CARS)?
In reply to a question posted by Fred Njankou on March 28, 2001.
Computer-aided routing is a broad term for a set of Model-Driven DSS
that use heuristic or optimization models to create "routes".
Check a product like I/CAD (Intergraph/Computer Aided Dispatch System). 
An "intelligent" interactive mapping and data entry system to dispatch, 
monitor, and manage emergency services utilizing IPS' expertise in both 
public safety and geographic information systems. Check URL 
Davis, J. L. "United overhaul brings decision-making down to earth", 
InfoWorld, March 1, 1999.
Field, D. "Airlines pursue the trail of bucks", USAToday, April 19, 1999 
at URL
Hitchcock, F. L. "Distribution of a Product from Several Sources to 
Numerous Localities", The Journal of Mathematics and Physics, vol. 20, 
August 1941, pp. 224-230.
Kwak, N. K.  Mathematical Programming with Business Applications.  New 
York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1973.
What's New at DSSResources.COM
04/13/2001 Published case example by Comshare Staff, "BMW Manufacturing 
operation in South Carolina chose Comshare Decision as its business 
intelligence (BI) solution.", Comshare, Inc., January 2001, URL 
DSS News Stories - Apr. 7 to Apr. 20, 2001
04/20/2001 MicroStrategy 7 now provides enhanced web-based query and 
reporting; it offers desktop-like functionality.
04/18/2001 Oracle adds Data Mining and OLAP functionality in the 
Oracle9i Database.
04/17/2001 Nucleus Research reports Microsoft SharePoint Portal server 
provides Rare Medium Consulting with 187% ROI.
04/16/2001 OnePage unveils new software for corporate portals.
04/13/2001 NEC Debuts 61" XGA Plasma Monitor prototype at NAB with plan 
to mass produce and ship by Summer 2001.
04/12/2001 POS.Com Technologies completed deployment of web-based 
subscription restaurant management solution to all 23 locations of 
Chicken Out Rotisserie chain.
04/11/2001 a-dec, Inc., a dental equipment manufacturer and distributor, 
solved its growing information management problem with Web-architected 
decision support software from Comshare.
04/11/2001 BenchmarkQA certified InfoImage Decision Portal software to 
support three million users.
04/10/2001 Hyperion Enterprise earned highest software product 
evaluation rating from SPEX; based on functionality, user-friendliness, 
technology and market strength.
04/09/2001 Southwest Airlines selected CALEB Technologies Corp's 
CrewSolver software to help overcome schedule delays.
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