Contextualization in Decision Making and Decision Support

Contextualization in Decision Making and Decision Support

Patrick Brézillon (University Paris 6, France and Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France) and Jean-Charles Pomerol (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-843-7.ch012
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Decision makers face a very large number of heterogeneous contextual cues; some of these pieces are always relevant (time period, unpredicted event, etc.), but others are only used in some cases (an accompanying person in the car, etc.). Actors then must deal with a set of heterogeneous and incomplete information on the problem-solving state to make their decisions. As a consequence, a variety of strategies are observed, including those involving an actor to another one, but also for the same actor according to the moment. It is not obvious how to get a comprehensive view of the mental representations at work in a person’s brain during many human tasks, and the argumentation rather than the explicit decision proposal is crucial (Forslund, 1995): It is better to store advantages and disadvantages rather than the final decisions for representing decision making.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Experience Base: It is a collection of practices that are expressed as chunks of knowledge, reasoning, and context. A contextual graph is an element of an experience base for a given problem-solving situation. This is the (future) knowledge base of intelligent systems, which are of higher granularity than previous knowledge bases in expert systems.

Proceduralized Context: This is the part of the contextual knowledge that is assembled, organized, and structured for exploitation at the current step of the decision-making process. In a contextual graph, a proceduralized context is an ordered sequence of instantiated contextual elements whose values (i.e., instantiations) matter for choosing among several methods at a given step of problem solving.

Contextual Element: This is the part of the context considered by an actor more or less related to the focus and from which the actor will extract elements for building the proceduralized context. Contextual elements constitute a heterogeneous population and have not necessarily the same granularity.

Practice: Practice is the application of a procedure (established by the head of the organization) by an actor that takes into account the situation and the context in which the procedure must be applied.

Contextual Graph: It is a directed acyclic graph with one input and one output that provides a uniform representation of elements of reasoning and of contexts in problem solving. A contextual graph represents problem solving, or at least a step of it. It is triggered when an unpredicted event occurs or there is a change in a contextual element belonging to it.

Contextualization: Contextualization is the process that transforms a procedure established by the organization in a practice that integrates the specificity of the situation and context.

Context: Context is something that constrains a focus (e.g., decision making) without intervening in it explicitly. The context is defined relatively to the focus and evolves jointly with it. The focus allows us to discriminate in the context the contextual knowledge, directly related to the focus, and the external knowledge.

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