Imperfect Information: The Decision Analysis Blog

DPL 8.00.10 update is available

The DPL maintenance update 8.00.10 is now available for download. It includes the following:

CHG: Better install errors in DPL Direct (#1879)
BUG: Updating a tornado can crash if certain objects are selected (#1887)
BUG: Crash in initial decision alternatives productivity ratio chart with zero differences BUG: Objective function label not display on risk profile chart (#1852)
ENH: Allow an event to appear more than once on a tree path and halt (#1851)


Model of the Month: A Clinical Decision about Medical Device Selection

May's Model of the Month was submitted by a group of ParisTech's GRID students who, under the guidance of long-time DPL user Professor Marc Lassagne (, developed a model that will help practitioners choose the most appropriate type of hip prosthesis based on patient demographics.

The model uses 3 decisions (Material Type, Fixation Type, and Prosthesis Type) to enumerate the best overall prosthesis choice for a particular subset of patients based on the following criteria:


What is Hybrid Discrete Tree Simulation and When Should You Use It?

How do you tackle a model with 318 paths? Well, whatever you do, you better not do it 318 times! Even if you were able to calculate a billion paths a second, it would still take 30,000 years or so.

The model we recently shared as part of the March Madness promotion was solved using Hybrid Discrete Tree Simulation, one of DPL's decision tree evaluation methods.

March Madness Sweet 16/Elite 8

It was an exciting first weekend of the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament! While the number of upsets as defined by an 11 or lower seed beating a higher seed was below the average since 1985, there were some great games. We decided to be generous and count any lower seeded team beating a higher seed as an upset. The discount in our March Madness special stands at 22%! Should you buy now or wait?

DPL 8.00.09 update is available

The DPL maintenance update 8.00.09 is now available for download.

BUG: Node definition dialog not modal when creating a chance node for a single row in DPL Direct (#1848)
BUG: Compile may fail after extracting database data containing strings with backslashes (#1847)
BUG: Fixed "event already active" error with VOI on chance nodes dont gambled in some but not all decision tree node instances (#1835)


What is the decision? Or, common disorders of the decision pyramid

A recent post by Steve Barrager on LinkedIn got me thinking about decisions, and in particular, the framing choices that lead to the identification of the focus decisions an analytical project will consider.

In many cases, the main decision is pretty obvious. Should we fund this R&D project? What should we bid for this lease?

Getting to First Base with DPL Direct

All versions of DPL 8 include DPL Direct, an easy-to-use yet robust decision modeling environment built as an add-in utilizing Excel's ribbon interface. The DPL Direct version offers the Excel add-in environment only, while the DPL Professional, Enterprise, and Portfolio versions offer users a choice between building DPL models within Direct (i.e., Excel) or the standalone environment.

DPL 8.00.08 update is available

The DPL maintenance update 8.00.08 is now available for download. This update includes several enhancements and bug fixes, including these:

ENH: New buttons on the DPL tab in the Excel side interface for examples list and quick start guide (#1814)
BUG: Attributes with similar prefixes may be erroneously renumbered in objective dialog (#1805)
BUG: Find may skip some strings with whole word option on (#1807)
ENH: Weibull distribution now available for continuous Monte Carlo simulation (#1809)
BUG: Display of endpoint database may result in outputs being cleared (#1769)


Snow II, New York Blizzard that Wasn't

First, let me note that up here in Maine we are getting another storm that is supposed to dump a foot of snow on us. This one doesn't have enough wind to qualify as a blizzard, but snow is snow. Second, I'd like to add a few notes about the previous storm, the blizzard that socked most of New England but spared New York City.



If there are two things that get us excited here in Syncopation's Bangor, Maine office, they are probability and SNOW! Thus, we were all very pleased to see this graphic from the National Weather Service's Caribou office posted on twitter:


Oil prices are so not surprising

We don't usually use this space to comment on swings in the commodity markets, but the recent and ongoing plunge in oil prices is hard to ignore. For people in the energy industry, the news is generally bad, whether they're in petroleum or its alternatives. For most others, the news is good, akin to the economic tailwind provided by a broad based tax cut.

Fresh Air in the Discussion of Risk -- SpaceX

I have to admit I often moan and groan when companies quoted in the press make stupid statements about uncertainty, or reveal that their decision making is horribly risk averse to the detriment of their shareholders/stakeholders. Conversely, I feel almost obligated to note the occasion when a business leader speaks intelligently about risk. In this case that would be Elon Musk of SpaceX.


Q&A about 32- and 64-bit DPL/Excel/Windows

While we normally try to avoid dry technical topics in this blog, the time has come to say a few words about 32- and 64-bit applications, in the hopes of addressing any confusion you may have registered. In this post, I'll answer some key FAQ's and provide a few pointers to other sources of useful information.

Q. Do I really need to know about this?

Thoughts on HBR IdeaCast's Ron Howard interview

The 50th birthday of Decision Analysis led to an interview (podcast and transcript here) of Ron Howard in the HBR IdeaCast series. Judging from social media it's been attracting some attention in the DA community, and one hopes more broadly. This is the sort of thing I'd like to see more of, DA mavens interacting with members of the media who are business oriented but not part of the DA or even OR/MS choir.


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