DSS News 
                  D. J. Power, Editor 
            June 22, 2003 -- Vol. 4, No. 13 
       A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 

  Check the case on WEBSDSS for Environmental Planning and 
   Management by Sugumaran and Meyer at DSSResources.COM



* Ask Dan! - What is the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP)? 
* Report from the AFRL Information Institute General Workshop
* What's New at DSSResources.COM 
* DSS News Releases 


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Ask Dan! 
by Daniel J. Power 

What is the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP)?

Better known as "AHP", pronouncing each letter ("A" -- "H" -- "P"), this 
decision structuring tool is well-known in operations research circles. 
Approximately 25 years ago, Tom Saaty developed an approach for 
prioritizing and ranking alternatives (cf., Saaty, 1977). My first 
exposure to Saaty's ideas occurred in 1981 when I read his 
practitioner-oriented book titled "The Analytical Hierarchy Process". 
The AHP has been used extensively since it was proposed.

Ed Wasil (American University) and Bruce Golden (University of Maryland) 
recently served as guest editors of a special issue of Computer & 
Operations Research "Celebrating 25 years of AHP-based decision making". 
They conclude "AHP has had a significant impact on the practice of 
decision making." The issue has five articles including case examples of 
analyzing foreign direct investment opportunities, facilitating decision 
making about prostate cancer screening and evaluating neonatal 
ventilators for a women's health hospital. The release of the PC-based 
software program Expert Choice in 1983 made Saaty's theory and his 
prescribed prioritization process more accessible and potentially more 
useful for decision support.

So what is AHP? AHP is a multicriteria decision technique that can 
combine qualitative and quantitative factors for prioritizing, ranking 
and evaluating alternatives. The first step in AHP is to develop a 
hierarchical representation of a problem. At the top of the hierarchy is 
the overall objective and the decision alternatives are at the bottom. 
Between the top and bottom levels are the relevant attributes of the 
decision problem for comparing alternatives. The number of levels in the 
hierarchy depends on the complexity of the problem and the decision 
maker's model of the problem hierarchy. Once the hierarchical 
representation is identified, one generates relational data for 
comparing the alternatives. Then one determines the relative priority of 
each attribute using the comparisons. Finally, one calculates the 
priorities or weights of the lowest level alternatives relative to the 
top-most objective. The AHP uses paired comparisons to develop the 
prioritization.  This simple, intuitive approach of comparing 
alternatives limits the cognitive demand on the decision maker and 
provides a means for checking the consistency of the comparisons.

A number of software packages implement AHP. The best known and most 
widely used is still Expert Choice.  Ernest Forman (George Washington 
University) programmed the initial version of Expert Choice and he's 
still involved with enhancing and marketing the software. Expert Choice 
is well known for its user friendliness, it was the first graphical, 
mouse-driven implementation of AHP. The company also has a group support 
version of its software that uses input from keypads to support multiple 

So is AHP a DSS? No, AHP is a theory of how prioritization or ranking 
decisions should be made.  The software Expert Choice has become more 
sophisticated in the implementation of its user interface over the 
years, but the underlying theory remains the same. Expert Choice can be 
used for special decision support studies and it can be used for 
creating a decision support system. The analytical hierarchy created in 
Expert Choice can be used to support ranking tasks like rank ordering 
the importance of military targets, the quality of research proposals or 
the quality of investment proposals.

At DSSResources.COM, you can find a case study using Expert Choice by 
John Wasyluk and Dan Saaty titled "Developing a Portfolio Approach to 
Capital Investment: A Case Study in Re-Engineering Resource Allocation 
at the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs".  The case describes the 
use of Team Expert Choice to support the capital investment process at 
the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs. "The decision model was 
delivered to the project evaluation team on a laptop with radio 
frequency keypads to enable the team to efficiently rate each project 
against the objectives to which it contributed. The software allowed 
decision makers to use both quantitative and qualitative information to 
rate competing investments".

So congratulations to Tom Saaty and good wishes to all of the people at 
Expert Choice, Inc. You should visit



Forman, E. H. and M. A. Selly, Decision by Objectives: How to Convince 
Others That You Are Right, World Scientific Publishing Company, December 

Saaty, T., A scaling method for priorities in hierarchical structures, 
Journal of Mathematical Psychology, vol. 15, 1977, pp. 234-281.

Saaty, T., The Analytical Hierarchy Process, New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 

Wasil, E. and B. Golden, "Celebrating 25 years of AHP-based decision 
making," (editorial), Computers & Operations Research, vol. 30, issue 
10, Sept. 2003, pp. 1419-1420. 

Wasyluk, O. John, and Daniel Saaty, "Developing a Portfolio Approach to 
Capital Investment: A Case Study in Re-Engineering Resource Allocation 
at the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs", Expert Choice, Inc., 2001, 
posted at DSSResources.COM December 14, 2001. 


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Report from the AFRL Information Institute General Workshop

On Tuesday and Wednesday, June 11-12, 2003, I attended the General 
Workshop of the US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Information Institute. 
The workshop focused on leading edge information systems, computer 
science and computer engineering research opportunities with AFRL. The 
workshop was held at the headquarters of the AFRL Information 
Directorate in Rome, NY.

Mr. John Graniero, Director of the Information Institute, provided an 
update on Institute activities. Then Dr. Nort Fowler, Acting Chief 
Scientist of the AFRL Information Directorate (IFD), discussed ongoing 
research projects and plans for the directorate. In general, IFD is 
responsible for Air Force related command, control, communication and 
computers and intelligence (C4I) research and development. Dr. Bob 
Herklotz and Dr. Fred Schneider then discussed some broad research 
opportunities. In the afternoon, eleven presenters introduced the 
mini-workshop breakout topics. The topics ranged from Quantum 
Communications, Information Assurance, Decision Support and 
Effects-based Operations to Mixed-Initiative Decision Making. 

Wednesday morning I attended the discussion of research needs and 
opportunities for Mixed-Initiative Decision Making led by Joe Carozzoni. 
 You might be wondering what that term "mixed-initiative decision 
making" means and I had the same feeling.  It seems the term means a 
human decision maker can take the "initiative" in a decision situation 
and request decision support or the decision support environment or an 
intelligent agent can initiate requests or alerts or initiate other 
actions. The decision support envirnment may consist of programs 
monitoring activities, fusing information, and in other ways making 
decision relevant information available to a decision maker or group of 
decision makers. After attending the session, I've concluded that there 
is a renewed interest in developing expert systems and intelligent 
agents to participant in important decision processes. Imagine going 
beyond simple agents that alert a decision maker to changed conditions 
and rule-based expert systems and then imagine an "intelligent advisor" 
that provides additional staff support and has a wide knowledge-base the 
decision maker can draw upon in decision making. An intelligent avatar, 
a digital Aristotle, a cyborg or an android comes to mind. The current 
research initiative won't quickly create a "Commander Data" of Star Trek 
TNG fame, but it seems to take a step in that direction. The goal seems 
to be developing a better technology or technologies for creating 
advanced knowledge-driven DSS. 

Many thanks to John Graniero. The workshop was a great opportunity for 
me to learn more about research at AFRL IFD. My summer research project 
on Advanced Decision and Planning Support is funded by the AFRL 
Information Institute. I'm working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 
the Collaborative Simulations Branch of AFRL IFD until mid-August. I 
hope to see some of you at ISDSS'03 in Ustron, Poland in mid-July. You 
can find out more about the AFRL Information Institute at .

What's New at DSSResources.COM 

06/14/2003 Posted case by Sugumaran, R. and J. Meyer, "Building a 
Web-Based Spatial Decision Support System (WEBSDSS) for Environmental 
Planning and Management", 2003. Check the case studies page.

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DSS News Releases - June 8 to June 20, 2003 

06/20/2003 MindManager for Tablet PC named finalist: CeBIT America Best
of Show. 

06/19/2003 BrainStorm Group announces the BPM Institute

06/19/2003 Leading Korean retailer Lotte Mart successfully deploys
MicroStrategy Technology Enterprise-Wide. 

06/18/2003 US Army Knowledge Management (AKM) selects Entrieva software 
for Communities of Practice (COPS) taxonomy initiative.

06/18/2003 Informatica introduces guaranteed "Data to Dashboard" 
business intelligence challenge. 

06/17/2003 Electronic 'Driver Advocate' helps keep focus on the road in 
DaimlerChrysler technology concept vehicle.

06/16/2003 CorVu customer PLIVA wins Balanced Scorecard Collaborative 
Hall of Fame Award. 

06/16/2003 Guidewire selected by CNA for enterprise-wide claim 

06/16/2003 Comshare(R) to supply Proquest Company with Comshare MPC(TM) 
complete corporate performance management system. 

06/16/2003 announces the official launch of Legacy Online; to 
celebrate the launch, and Oceanus will conduct massively 
multi-player online gaming tournaments.

06/16/2003 RightNow develops business activity monitoring system to 
optimize business processes and actions to ensure success.

06/16/2003 Intelligroup develops ScorPac to easily assess supply chain 
effectiveness in SAP(R) Solutions.

06/13/2003 Seattle first city to receive TrafficGauge mobile traffic 

06/12/2003 Primus Knowledge Solutions announces upcoming release of 
Primus eServer 5.2 Knowledgebase.

06/12/2003 Vulcan Inc. completes first step toward Digital Aristotle; 
'Project Halo' exceeds expectations for automated reasoning by AI 

06/12/2003 Survey shows accounting professionals need more than numbers 

06/11/2003 DataSynapse awarded Risk Management Solution of the Year and 
Business ROI of the Year by The Banker. 

06/11/2003 Worcester Polytechnic Institute study finds most U.S. Gov't 
web sites are not fully accessible to the disabled.

06/11/2003 James Gosling, creator of Java, celebrates 'Innovation 
Everywhere' with Java Technology. 

06/10/2003 MicroStrategy and SYSTIME form strategic alliance. 

06/09/2003 OLAP pioneer Erik Thomsen joins Hyperion as distinguished 

06/09/2003 Reality Interactive announces preview of industry leading 
Simulation Container technology.       

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