Model Inspection in the Context of a Distributed DSS

Model Inspection in the Context of a Distributed DSS

Matthias Buchs (University of Fribourg, Switzerland) and Pius Hättenschwiler (University of Fribourg, Switzerland)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/jdsst.2009062602
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Dicodess is a model-based distributed cooperative decision support system framework. It encapsulates the underlying model in a graphical user interface shielding users from the technical details of model configuration and optimization. However, a model usually evolves over time and therefore needs verification and validation accordingly. Furthermore, users sometimes might want to have a better insight into the model to better understand a “strange” solution. Model views are a new concept for modeling language and domain independent model visualization. The focus is not primarily on visualizing model input or model output but on the model’s structure, the formalized knowledge. Modelers as well as domain experts are able to inspect a model visually in order to get a better understanding and to have a common base of discussion. The improvement of model understanding and communication among the people involved will lead to models of better quality. In the last part of this article we are proposing an example integration of model views into Dicodess. This is enabled through the careful design of our model visualization concept. The integration provides mutual benefit: Dicodess users get direct access to model visualization, which through Dicodess’ cooperative functionality can be done even in collaboration.
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Dicodess is a framework for building model-based distributed cooperative decision support systems. At first we will present the underlying principles that need to be understood when dealing with Dicodess. We will then discuss collaboration when using the DSS. The interested reader may get more information about Dicodess at (Gachet, 2004, 2009).


Dicodess encapsulates the underlying mathematical model into a graphical user interface (GUI) which spares the user from the technical details of a modeling language. By doing manipulations in the GUI the user actually specifies and finally generates a complete decision support model. This process is called structuring semi-structured problems. Figure 1 shows the abstractions Dicodess uses to support the process.

Figure 1.

Abstraction of the decision process


To structure a problem completely three things need to be specified: The situation (which is based on facts, but could also comprise hypotheses and assumptions), the task (which can be influenced by the problem statement), and exogenous decisions (which are dependent on external constraints like the decision maker's will or some law). Dicodess uses distributed decision support objects (DDSO) to represent among other things the elements described above. These pieces of knowledge are mostly independent, reusable, and exchangeable. They can be managed (created, edited, exchanged, deleted, reused, combined, etc.) separately by their respective object manager. Figure 2 shows a DSS user's object managers.

Figure 2.

Dicodess’ object managers


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