ABSolute, a general-purpose multi-attribute decision support system

A research prototype system

Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 10:42:29 -0400
From: "Juhnyoung Lee" jyl@us.ibm.com
To: "Daniel Power" power@dssresources.com

I would encourage you and your colleagues to download and evaluate the system. In the meantime, if you have any questions and/or need more information, please do not hesitate to ask me.

ABSolute is a general-purpose multi-attribute decision support system. The current system focuses on e-procurement in a B2B commerce context, providing corporate buyers with intelligent decision support functions, for example evaluating RFQ bids from suppliers. ABSolute will transform sourcing into a vastly more efficient process by satisfying complicated decision analysis needs for e-Sourcing. It provides unrivaled buyer side decision support by evaluating and scoring weighted preferences of multiple attributes such as quality, delivery condition, warranty period, contract terms, supplier rating, and price. Besides using traditional scoring mechanisms used by other sourcing decision support tools, ABSolute allows users to interact with the system to determine the weights of multiple attributes through the use of partial ordinal rankings of supplier offers.

ABSolute provides a visual user interface which is a sophisticated communication mechanism that adds value and meaning, illuminates, simplifies, and clarifies information on the screen. The visual interface lets buyers view, explore, discover, search, compare, and classify submitted bid offers. Instead of offering an unexplained solution from a black-box algorithm, ABSolute provides understanding and accounting for why certain offers are better than others. As a result, it helps users make purchase decisions with confidence. For interactive analysis, the system provides a set of analysis capabilities for pareto optimality analysis, and similarity search for what-if analysis. Furthermore, it provides a set of useful visual facilities including dynamic filtering and querying, tagging, color-coding, and zooming. It provides a customizable tree-view for Purchase Request specification as well as a table-view for displaying submitted offers.

When using traditional multi-attribute scoring methods, decision makers often face difficulties in assigning appropriate weights to attributes, resulting in inconsistent end results. Weights assigned to such attributes by people are prone to subjective variance and would therefore be different from person to person, or situation by situation. To overcome this, ABSolute provides an innovative approach, where decision makers only provide partial ordinal rankings over subsets of offers. The visual interface of ABSolute helps users examine and select subsets of offers, and create and arrange multiple partial ordinal rankings. From the information implied by these ordinal rankings, the system derives a set of attribute weights, and then an overall ranking of all the given offers.

Download available at http://alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/absolute
More information available at http://www.research.ibm.com/absolute

Juhnyoung Lee, Ph.D.
IBM T. J. Watson Research Center
e-Mail: jyl@us.ibm.com
Phone 914-945-1314