Systemic Approach to Decision Making

Systemic Approach to Decision Making

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2509-7.ch001
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Chapter 1 describes the basic concepts and definitions of the theory of decision-making. A general formulation of the problem of decision-making is given. Contents of the problem and multicriteria decision-making problem have been considered. Statement of the problem is formulated. The method of solution is proposed. Qualitative evaluation of alternatives method is reviewed. Illustrative example is given.
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Any scientific theory is based on certain fundamental concepts. Before carrying out the research, it is necessary to agree on the terms, that is, to give an adequate definition of these concepts. It should be borne in mind that any definition of a phenomenon (a concept) is just one of the possible verbal models of this phenomenon, reflecting one or another aspect of this concept. That is why in the scientific literature there is a variety of definitions of the same complex concept. In the future, we will be guided by the following system of definitions, bearing in mind that there are other possible approaches to the definition of the concepts under consideration.

Decision-making is some formalized or non-formalized choice, allowing reaching a fixed partial goal or moving in its direction. Is carried out by a technical device or a person and based on the comparison and evaluation of options.

Goal – final result, which the subjects expect to obtain using the choice. Study of the problem of decision-making in complex system is carried out in a scientific discipline called systems analysis. In the most general sense, the theory of optimal decision is a set of analytical and numerical methods, focused on finding the best options from a variety of alternatives and avoiding their exhaustive search.

An important concept of systems analysis is the integrity of the system. Some phenomena can only be understood by studying the whole object of study (the organism, system, etc.) in its entirety. For example, we can not perceive a piece of music by studying only its individual sounds and beats. This phenomenon is defined in science by the term “emergence” (from the English: Emergence – nascence, appearance of new): the existence in a system the integral properties not possessed by its individual elements. The emergence is a criterial feature of the system.

The feature of emergence is non-additivity properties of the system, the non-applicability of the principle of superposition, the nonlinear coupling between the properties of the system and its individual elements. The appearance of emergence is the result of elements synergy (enhancing of properties). In fact, it is nothing else as a well-known dialectical law of the transformation of quantity into quality. The emergence is due to the interaction of elements (subsystems) within the operating system, which as a whole reveals inherent only to it a new quality and regularity.

Thus, the system “vision” has such a property as three-dimensional perception, which is not present at one of its elements (left or right eye). This is the basis of technical systems using stereoscopic effect. There are objects which property and coherent properties of the individual elements are diametrically opposed. In Victor Hugo's novel “Les Miserables” is a description of the bridge: every brick in the bridge hanging over the abyss, tends to fall down, but because they want to fall at the same time and all together, you have a strong holistic arched bridge design which holds.

There are three causes of emergence:

  • 1.

    System’s nonlinearity. Examples: threshold-like exceeding of critical mass of the compound nucleus, leading to chain reaction (atomic bomb); crystallization of the supersaturated solution; use of catalysts to change the rates of chemical reactions; the occurrence of water from hydrogen and oxygen.

  • 2.

    Unpredictable bifurcation in the evolution of a subsystem (the appearance of a new branch of a growing tree).

  • 3.

    Recombination of links between elements. For example, we all know that water vapor is transformed into a liquid at low temperatures, but not everyone knows that in this case the number of intermolecular links increases. Number of molecules in an isolated system remains the same, but the quality (properties) changes dramatically.

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