UU [Dept. of Information and Computing Sciences]

Course: Decision Theory


MSc Programme ''Applied Computing Science'' 2008-2009


April 21, 2009: the assignment and exam results are available.

Errors and remarks:
Slide 395 ('Making a decision'): both occurences of s_{ij} should be replace by s_{ji}, since we take the first index to indicate the row and the second to indicate the column of the matrix.
Exercise 6.3: 'status quo' does not have a special meaning in the context of decision problems, so it just means 'the current situation, nothing changes';
Exercise 6.4: the answers to part c) are incorrect. You can use one of three approaches to solving this exercise, each will result in slightly different risk premiums. 1) Draw a curve through the given points and read all necessary information from your drawing. 2) Observe that the function u(x) = sqrt(x)/1000 fits the points; you should then find risk premiums of 7996 and 113594. 3) Use linear interpolations between the points and you will find riskpremiums of 0 and 115.000.

Check this page regularly, for the overview of subjects may be updated regularly.


Subject overview 
Exam and Practical assignment
Literature and other coursematerial
Course evaluation
Other links


Acquiring knowledge and understanding of different models and decision analysis techniques for (rational) decision making with and without uncertainty. Roughly, the following subjects will be discussed:


This course is given in Period 3: weeks 6 - 15 (2009); the final exam is in week 16.

Lectures are given twice a week. For further details, see the official schedule.

dr. Silja Renooij (e-mail)

The following table gives an overview of the subjects treated each class. The corresponding slides can be downloaded. In addition, exercises to practice with the material are listed. Note that more in-depth understanding will be required for passing this course than necessary for the exercises.

The exercises can be found in the studymanual, which also lists the relevant chapters of the textbook (see below).

Week  Date Subjects Slides
Relevant exercises
604-02Introduction Slides 1 1.1,1.2

06-02Decision criteria;
Decision trees
     " 2.1, 2.2, 2.3,
3.1, 3.2ab, 3.3ab, 3.4, 3.5
711-02Probabilities Slides 2 3.2c, 3.3c, 3.4ef,
4.1, 4.2 4.3

13-02Lotteries      " 4.4, 5.1a, 5.4
818-02Utilities      " 5.1b, 5.2, 5.3, 5.5, 5.6

20-02Risk attitudes      " 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.6
25-02Multi-attribute utility theory Slides 3 6.5, 7.2, 7.16

27-02MAUT cont'd      " 7.1, 7.3, 7.7, 7.8
04-03MAUT cont'd      " 7.4, 7.5, 7.6,

06-03MAUT cont'd Slides 4 7.9, 7.17
1111-03MAUT in practice      " 7.10 -- 7.15

13-03MAUT in practice cont'd      "  
No classes (re-examinations)

1325-03Sensitivity analysis Slides 5 8.1, 8.2

27-03Sensitivity analysis cont'd      " 8.3, 8.7a-c
1401-04Value of information analysis      " 8.4, 8.5, 8.6, 8.7de

03-04Analytic Hierarchy process      " 9.1 -- 9.7

No lectures: Study week



The course will be graded based on a practical assignment and a written exam.

To qualify for the 2nd chance exam in week 23, you should have received at least a 5.0 for the practical assignment in this year. Under certain conditions, you may be granted a second chance for the practical assignment. It is not possible to redo both the written exam and the practical assignment! See the following table for details:

Re-examination conditions for the 
written exam  :
Re-examination conditions for the practical assignment  :
  • the exam is taken in week 23 (2009).
  • a report on the practical assignment was submitted in period 3 of 2008/2009, and graded with at least a 5.0
  • a report on the practical assignment was submitted in period 3 of 2008/2009, and
  • the assignment grade was less than 5.0, and
  • the exam grade was at least 5.0, and
  • a different subject is chosen, and
  • an appointment is made with the lecturer concerning subject and timeschedule.

Partial results from previous years are no longer valid. Reports on practical assignments done in previous years may be re-submitted, but are not guaranteed to receive the same grade due to changes in criteria.

Exam and practical assignment

The final written exam is a closed book exam. You are strongly advised to bring a calculator (mobile phones are not allowed!)

Here's a list of what I expect you to know and understand for the exam. Here's an example of a written exam. Note that this exam stems from the time when participants could consult the book, notes, and transparencies during the exam; this is no longer allowed!

The practical assignment consists of performing a decision analysis and writing a report about it. The assignment may be done either alone or, preferably, in pairs. View the grading criteria based on which your report will be marked.


Important notes:
  1. Deadlines will be strictly enforced.
  2. Submissions received after a deadline will be disregarded; you can then no longer pass the course and do not qualify for re-examination.

Literature and other course material


To enhance understanding of different subjects, we recommend trying out the demo version of, for example, DPL. More information about decision analysis in general and software more in particular can be found on the website of the Decision Analysis Society (DAS).

Other links

Course evaluation

To guard the quality of our educational programme, each year every course is evaluated by the students that registered for the course. The student-evaluation helps instructors to evaluate and if necessary adapt their courses and allows the Institute to evaluate its teachers.  For the evaluations to be useful it is necessary to get respons from a large number of participants.

Our intention is that you find the decision analysis course interesting, motivating, perhaps a bit difficult now and again but doable, challenging and enjoyable, and last but not least, we hope that you feel that you have learnt many useful things. If for some reason the course wasn't what you'd expected and/or if you have any (reasonable) suggestions to improve the course and everything that comes with it, please fill out the evaluation form. If you're completely satisfied then we'd also like to know that and filling out the  evaluation form would be a way of telling me this.

For those who are interested, links are provided to the evaluation of previous years. Note that this can be viewed internally only. For each evaluation, you'll find listed the number of registrants (union of OSIRIS subscribers and participants), the number of participants (distinct students that participated in an examination in that year), and the number of respondents (students that filled out the evaluation form).

Please note that the evaluation site contains links to evaluations of a 'Besliskunde' course in years previous to 2002-2003. This is a different course from the current one as it was a third year course, entirely focussed on medical decision making; evaluations are therefore incomparable.

  22 January 2009.