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MS&E 252 Handout #1

Decision Analysis I September 25th, 2007

Course Guide to MS&E 252
Decision Analysis I

Welcome to Decision Analysis I. This course guide has been developed to give you an
introduction to the course; the logistics involved and emphasize many important aspects.
Please read this handout carefully.

Warning – This is a preliminary version of the course guide. It will be updated
during the first week of classes.


Everyone makes decisions, but a few people think about how they do it. Psychological
research shows that in many simple decision situations people make decisions that upon
close examination they regard as wrong. Decision analysis is the normative field of
decision-making. Throughout the course, we will develop rules of thought that will
transform complex decisions into simpler decision situations where the course of action is
clear. We will create powerful distinctions that will improve your personal decision-
making and enable you to help others with their own decisions.

Message from Ron Howard

Decision analysis is the best way I know how to make decisions. That’ s not to say that
thinking about decisions is important, but if you do wish to think about your choices,
decision analysis is the best way I know how to achieve clarity of action. In MS&E 252, I
will profess how to carry on a conversation for achieving clarity of actional thought by
combining precisely defined concepts. Throughout the quarter, I will ask you to
demonstrate your proficiency at conducting a professional conversation about decision-
making building on the concepts present in lectures or in course materials. I guarantee
that MS&E 252 will help you create powerful distinctions to improve your personal
decision-making and to help others with their decisions.

Page 1 of 7 Course Guide

We typically make announcements at the beginning of class. Professor Howard’s style features a mix of Socratic dialogue. please say your name. The assignment will take place by the class roster on Axess.m. Howard. Page 2 of 7 Course Guide . There is a deep meaning in every conversation. even if they appear deceptively simple. Please make sure you have registered on Axess for the course or your assignment to a problem session may be delayed. Try to appreciate the philosophy and depth behind what is being taught in the lectures and demonstrations. lecture. The course is interactive: contribute your enthusiasm and energy and you will be rewarded many times over. you will be assigned to one of the problem sessions. Handouts will be available on the web page for printout or reference.m. but most likely 5:30 p. Problem Sessions Attendance to both the class lectures and the problem sessions will be crucial to your success in the course. The lectures have been developed to demonstrate lessons that have been learned through the practice and teaching of decision analysis. demonstration. Location: Terman Auditorium Professor Howard. We will have several problem sessions running at the same time: Day: Tuesdays Time: To be announced. Please be assured that to whichever problem session you are assigned. The lecture demonstrations capture the essence of applying decision analysis to 'real' problems.m. and directed inquiry. 2007 ______________________________________________________________________ Lectures and Problem Sessions Lectures Day: Tuesdays and Thursdays Time: 11:00 a. Listen carefully to the questions posed and the responses provided by Dr. Location: To be announced After the first week. will lead the lectures. to 12:15 p. This assignment process is to help you meet and work with new people. Additional handouts not available on the web page will be provided at the beginning of class. one of the founders of Decision Analysis and a teacher and practitioner for over 30 years. We would like to know you throughout the quarter just like you know us. We have put a lot of effort to ensure that the material covered in each of the problem sessions led by the different TAs is very similar. you will cover the same material as any other problem session. these will concern assignments and other course-related information.MS&E 252 Handout #1 Decision Analysis I September 25th. to 7:00 p.m. which will be addressed in problem sessions by the teaching assistants. Before asking or answering a question in the lectures. The lectures will not always cover computational details.

2007 ______________________________________________________________________ During problem sessions. and will treat this very professionally. work through quantitative problems that illustrate concepts covered in the lectures. There will be one televised problem session and it will be available on the web. summarize the assigned readings. In this class. it is important to sign up on Axess as soon as possible. we understand the value of your time. We will also assign you to the problem sessions from the class roster on Axess. Please address any administrative questions about the course to the teaching assistant in charge of your section. Page 3 of 7 Course Guide . answer any questions you may have about class lectures and homework assignments. go to: http://scpd. we will ask groups to present certain material from class. On-Line Access to lectures and problem sessions All class lectures and one problem session will be recorded and broadcasted on SITN and SCPD channels. Office Hours We will be holding several office hours to answer questions related to lectures. and help you apply and challenge what you are being taught. Time and location of office hours will be announced in class and on Coursework.MS&E 252 Handout #1 Decision Analysis I September 25th. We will retrieve the class list form Axess and send important logistics and clarification announcements via e- mail. We will also expect the same level of professionalism from you. problem sessions or homework assignments. we will not accept any late assignments unless you have previously contacted your section TA and obtained permission to do that (which will be in very rare cases). In addition. Select MSandE 252. The problem sessions provide an essential extension of the material covered in the lectures and are intended to deepen your understanding of DA concepts as well as to cover the calculation aspects of the course. In view of this professional Sign Up On Axess As Soon As Possible Once again.stanford. To access the online lectures from any terminal on campus.htm Select Academic Courses. Also please do not direct any administrative questions to Professor Howard except upon your teaching assistant’s suggestion. the lectures and problem sessions will be available on the web 2 hours after recording is complete.

We will make sure that copies of additional reading material are available on reserve in Terman library and a reference to the journal or magazine is given out. This is available at the Stanford bookstore and also on reserve in Terman Engineering Library. the course schedule. 2002. Ronald A. handouts. Please bring your manuscript to each lecture and be prepared to participate when called upon. and a discussion forum where you can submit any questions you might have about assignments or course concepts. This collection of readings is essential for understanding basic concepts and for anyone serious about learning Decision Analysis. As often as possible. The collection of readings provides a fundamental set of reading material.MS&E 252 Handout #1 Decision Analysis I September 25th. 2007 ______________________________________________________________________ SITN students watching the class remotely will need to get a password from their SITN coordinator. Problem Session Slides Throughout the problem sessions. Most of the handouts will be available on the web. Throughout the quarter. others will only be made available as hard copies. Collection of Readings. Please bring a copy of the manuscript to all lectures. reading assignments will be given from this course reader. Please visit our website on coursework regularly. Handouts We will be asking you to read many handouts throughout the quarter. problem session slides will be posted on the coursework website prior to the problem session. There may be other readings of interesting which are not yet in print. It has contact and background information about us. Required Texts Decision Analysis Manuscript. The Web Page http://coursework. Additional Readings. The manuscript will also be used in MS&E 352. we will be using many power point slides and demonstrations. Page 4 of 7 Course Guide . This is available at the Stanford bookstore and also on reserve in Terman Engineering Library. Howard. and will be distributed in class and via SCPD for remote students.stanford. announcements.

edu The names of 3-4 more teaching assistants will be announced later.S. You are to submit your answers to the Probabilistic and Food For Thought questions using the course web page. Homework Assignments There will be weekly homework assignments provided on the web page each Thursday and due the following Thursday 11:59pm.D. You are allowed to work in groups if you choose. however you must submit your own work. 5) Food for thought. However we will expect a full knowledge and command of the material covered in the other sections that you will not turn in. 2007 ______________________________________________________________________ The Teaching Team Professor: Ron Howard rhoward@stanford. 2) Definitions. We believe that we will all learn Decision Analysis together throughout this process. The Decision Analysis Teaching Assistant Office (DA TA office) is located in Terman 406A. Solutions to the full HW assignment will be distributed one week after the assignment is handed out. 4) Quantitative Terman 420 (650) 723-4176 The members of the teaching team are fellow Ph. Unless otherwise mentioned. students who have all taken the DA sequence in the department (and excelled in the course). Answers to Food For Thought section are optional but can contribute to your participation grade and will give us feedback on the overall grasp of certain topics of the course. or M. Homework assignments will generally include some or all of the following: 1) Reading assignments.MS&E 252 Handout #1 Decision Analysis I September 25th. Each homework will include a brief of what questions are to be turned in. Name E-mail Ibrahim Al Mojel mojel@stanford. you will NOT need to turn in your solutions for the whole assignment. The Page 5 of 7 Course Guide .edu Thomas Seyller tseyller@stanford. Phone: (650) 723-1467. 3) Probabilistic questions.

etc. For those students. The breakdown of your final grade is shown below: Homework Assignments: 25% Case Study: 10% Mid Term: 25% Final: 40% Participation will be taken into account for students who are both exceptionally active and who make pertinent comments in class. It will be scheduled according to the Autumn Quarter Time Schedule. A. so he delegates the course grading to the rest of the teaching team.). a midterm and a final. A instead of A-.instead of B+. SCPD Students We have many students who are watching the class remotely via the SCPD network. It will be closed book. we will provide a case study so you can apply many of the concepts you learnt throughout the class in a complex decision setting. Professor Howard believes that the commitment to provide course grades interferes with his ability to provide learning experiences and exercises.g.MS&E 252 Handout #1 Decision Analysis I September 25th. Case Study Towards the end of the quarter. closed notes and open mind. The midterm is tentatively scheduled for October 25th. you use your microphone to help remote students listen to the conversations in class. The final will contain both probabilistic and analytical sections. Page 6 of 7 Course Guide . You will also be required to form a group and work with the attending students in the class. Exams and Grading Policy There will be two exams during the quarter. For this reason. Also for SCPD students who are local and wish to attend the problem sessions you will be assigned to one of the sessions. 2007 ______________________________________________________________________ different sections of the homework assignments will be further discussed in the problem sessions. please make sure that when you ask or answer a class in lectures or in the televised problem session. participation might translate into a final letter grade that it is one increment higher than it would have been otherwise (e. The format will be the same as the probabilistic format of the homework assignments.

MS&E 252 Handout #1 Decision Analysis I September 25th. Page 7 of 7 Course Guide . It will be considered an honor code violation to intentionally refer to previous year's solutions. you will still provide all HW assignments and exams on the web and present the case in the form of a power point slide and/or word document. As we occasionally reuse problem set questions from previous years. we expect the students not to copy. or look at the solutions in preparing their answers. not just give us the right answers. However. The DA Teaching Team. refer to. The purpose of problem sets in this class is to help you think about the material. students should write the names of people with whom they discussed the problems in the assignment. When submitting assignments. If you are not familiar with the Honor Code. Wishing you all a wonderful learning experience. please refer to The Stanford University Bulletin. We will also be available to help via e-mail and telephone. Honor Code All students and members of the teaching team are expected to follow Stanford University's Honor Code. 2007 ______________________________________________________________________ If you cannot attend problem sessions or are not local it may be difficult to arrange for a group for you to work with directly. We also understand that your assignments are individual. Students may discuss and work on homework problems in groups but must assign probabilities to all possible answers on their own.