Making Decisions, 2nd Edition by Dennis V. Lindley

By Dennis V. Lindley

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It should be emphasized that none of the material in this book is new. I have not thought it right in a work of this character to cite the original sources. Many writers have been responsible for the notions developed here: principally F. P. Ramsey, B. de Finetti, J. von Neumann, L. J. Savage and most recently J. Pratt, H. Raiffa, and R. Schlaifer, in whose company I spent a most rewarding period at the Harvard Business School. The stimulus for writing this book came from Leigh Edmondson who, by continually asking me to lecture on the ideas, encouraged me to think about the basic principles in an elementary way.

If there are five possible decisions (say five entrées on the menu) they will be called d1, d2, d3, d4, and d5, with m = 5.  . dm. , are to be read as 'and so on up to'.  . dm is simply shorthand for 'decision number one, decision number two, and so on up to decision number m'. Mentioning the first two and the last one is purely conventional.  . dm of m exclusive and exhaustive decisions and the problem is to make a selection, necessarily of a single item, from this list. 7 The Role of Uncertainty The selection of a single item from the list as being in some sense best and as the one course of action to adopt is, in principle, straightforward providing one has complete information.

Even if information is to be had it typically costs something to obtain it and Chapter 7 is concerned with the value of information, or simply how much one should pay for it. The reader has already been warned that the main topic of this book is the basic structure of decision-making and that less attention is paid to current important but complicated decision problems, partly because the necessary technical apparatus is unavailable. But one important technical tool is the decision tree. Chapter 8 describes the idea and illustrates its use with several examples.

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