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Trouble deciding?

The co-author of Smart Choices will provide practical advice in approaching decisions about life, career, having a child, and purchasing a home at the annual meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) in Seattle.

Dr. Ralph L. Keeney, Research Professor of Decision Sciences at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, is co-author of Smart Choices, A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions, a Harvard Business School publication. He will share decision-making techniques that people can use in their personal lives, at work, and in school.

Dr.Keeney is available for interview.

Topic: IFORS Distinguished Lecture - Using Operations Research to Improve the Quality of Your Life
Who: Prof. Ralph L. Keeney
Date: Monday, November 5, 2007
Time: 11:40 AM 12:30 PM
Place: Washington State Convention & Trade Center, Seattle, WA

Operations research is the application of sound logic and advanced analytical methods to help making better decisions. Operations researchers help companies, governments, and organizations make better decisions.

Dr. Keeney maintains that operations research concepts, techniques, and tools can help all of us make important decisions in our lives. His presentation will outline guidelines for systematic thinking and analysis to help people improve the quality of their lives.

Since individuals can purposefully influence the quality of their lives only by their decisions, says Dr. Keeney, an individual first needs to define what he or she means by quality of life. This can be done by creating a coherent set of life objectives. Using these, an individual should recognize decision opportunities, create alternatives, and make decisions that further these life objectives.

The presentation includes procedures to help one examine life-changing decisions, personal policy choices, and fundamental life tradeoffs, such as time, health and money.

Dr. Keeneys book Smart Choices, coauthored with John Hammond and Howard Raiffa, brings the basic knowledge from the decision science field to individuals interested in making better decisions in their professional and personal lives.

In Analysis of the Biological Clock Decision, a paper being published in the INFORMS journal Decision Analysis, Dr. Keeney provides systematic guidance to women deciding at what stage in their careers to have children.

In research that is sure to stir controversy, Dr. Keeney recently completed a study of decision-making and mortality in the U.S. He argues that nearly half the deaths that occur every year are hastened, in part, by personal decisions.

Over 3,500 operations researchers are expected to attend the INFORMS Annual Meeting November 4 - 7 in Seattle. The meetings theme is The Spirit of Technology. Information about the annual meeting is at

Additional plenary speakers ( include

  • Health care: Eva K. Lee and Marco Zaider, a team from Georgia Tech and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center that used math modeling to improve the treatment of prostate cancer
  • Homeland security: Ervin Kapos, Director of Operations Analysis for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Supply chain: Gang Yu, Director of Worldwide Procurement for Dell
  • Global economy: Robert W. Moffatt, jr., Senior Vice President, Integrated Options, IBM

Ralph L. Keeneys research interests concern models of decisions involving multiple objectives, application of decision analysis for complex corporate and governmental problems, risk analysis involving life-threatening risks, structuring decisions and creating innovative alternatives. He is the author of numerous published articles and several books on various aspects of decision-making. Keeney received the Frank P. Ramsey Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Decision Analysis and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.


Contact: Barry List
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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