UNIVERSITY EXAMINATIONS: 2018/2019
EXAMINATION FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE IN DATA ANALYICS/MASTER OF SCIENCE
IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT
MDA 5203/MISM 5203: DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEMS
DATE: DECEMBER 2018 TIME: 2 HOURS
INSTRUCTIONS: Answer Question One & ANY OTHER TWO questions.
QUESTION ONE [20 MARKS]
a) Explain the relationship between problem solving and decision making.
Problem solving is an activity directed toward satisfying some sensed need or
emphasizes thought process that precedes terminal choice
Making a decision involves the solving of problems: (or in the course of solving a problem a decision might be
For structured decisions the answers are well-known
For unstructured decisions, they are not and they require exploration, ingenuity and sometimes lead to
b) Describe the process of training artificial neural networks (6 marks)
c) Explain what a decision is and what it meant by decision making (4 marks)
A decision is a choice about: a course of action.
a strategy of action leading to a certain desired objective
**A piece of knowledge indicating the nature of an action commitment
** Decision making is the activity of manufacturing a new piece of knowledge expressing commitment to some course
d) Describe limitations that managers encounter in making decisions. (6 marks)
a. Cognitive limits – human capacity for processing contents of immediate memory is limited to a maximum of 7
variables (handled simultaneously).
– small long term memory
– forgetting, erroneous recall
– inundation or scarcity debilitation
– erroneous processing
b. Economic limits – humans are expensive
c. Temporal limits – human processing speeds are limited (increased pressure may cause decision maker to use an
QUESTION TWO [15 MARKS]
a) Describe giving examples of six types of knowledge that you are likely to manage as a decision maker.
a. Descriptive knowledge – knowledge about state of some world (past, present, future, hypothetical)
-also called data or information
– it is what makes a decision maker informed
b. Procedural Knowledge – knowledge about how to do something
– can be acquired or derived
– is what makes a decision maker skilled
c. Reasoning knowledge – knowledge about what conclusion is valid in what situation
– knowing why rather than knowing how
– is what makes a decision maker expert
d. Linguistic knowledge- knowledge that enables comprehension of incoming messages
– can be acquired or derived
– lexicon, grammar, parser
e. Presentation Knowledge – knowledge that enables the production of outgoing messages
– inverse of linguistic knowledge
– can be acquired or derived
f. Assimilative knowledge – Knowledge controlling what enters the knowledge store and what its impact is, the structure of
the store, and its efficiency
– basis for learning and filtering
– controls the validity and utility of a knowledge store
b) Discuss possible behaviors that you might expect or want DSSs to exhibit. (5marks)
a. can accept requests from DM
b. can make responses to DM
c. non-procedural requests (natural language)
d. understand requests that are semantically different but are actually the same
e. request clarification of a request
f. collect knowledge from other sources
g. help in making next request
h. invention of knowledge (Most difficult area for computer DSS)
i. process different types of knowledge when working on a single problem.etc.
QUESTION THREE [15 MARKS]
a) Examine the basic Process Flow of a Genetic Algorithm as used in decision support systems (5 marks)
b) Describe the Data Warehouse Architecture for decision support system (5 marks)
The architecture consists of various interconnected elements:
Operational and external database layer – the source data for the DW
Information access layer – the tools the end user access to extract and analyze the data
Data access layer – the interface between the operational and information access layers
Metadata layer – the data directory or repository of metadata information
Additional layers are:
Process management layer – the scheduler or job controller
Application messaging layer – the “middleware” that transports information around the firm
Physical data warehouse layer – where the actual data used in the DSS are located
Data staging layer – all of the processes necessary to select, edit, summarize and load warehouse data
from the operational and external data bases
c) Discuss the Techniques Used in intelligent decision support systems to Mine the Data (5 marks)
The goal is to discover rules that define whether an item belongs to a particular subset or class of data.
For example, if we are trying to determine which households will respond to a direct mail campaign, we will want rules that
separate the “probables” from the not probables.
These IF-THEN rules often are portrayed in a tree-like structure.
These techniques search all transactions from a system for patterns of occurrence.
A common method is market basket analysis, in which the set of products purchased by thousands of consumers are
Results are then portrayed as percentages; for example, “30% of the people that buy steaks also buy charcoal”.
These methods are applied to time series data in an attempt to find hidden trends.
If found, these can be useful predictors of future events.
For example, customer groups that tend to purchase products tied-in with hit movies would be targeted with promotional
campaigns timed to release dates.
Clustering techniques attempt to create partitions in the data according to some distance metric.
The clusters formed are data grouped together simply by their similarity to their neighbors.
By examining the characteristics of each cluster, it may be possible to establish rules for classification.
QUESTION FOUR [15 MARKS]
a) Using a case of your own choice describe the phases you would go through in a decision-making process.
a. Intelligence – collecting, organizing knowledge
alertness to occasions for decision
b. Design – identification, examination of possible courses of action
evaluation of expected outcomes for these
c. Choice – applies authority to make selection, in face of internal/external pressures
b) Discuss the common strategies that are used in guiding decision-making processing. (10 marks)
a. Optimizing: select the course of action with the highest payoff/utility
cost/benefit of all alternatives
costly to perform
can’t adequately measure utility
b. Satisficing: select the course of action “good enough” to meet minimal set of
all alternatives not considered
limited time, effort, money to make decision
alternatives considered sequentially
c. Elimination-by-aspects: narrowing process, eliminating alternatives that fail with
respect to one aspect.
may eliminate one that is “overall” superior to others in all but a single aspect
d. Incrementalism: “muddling through” or “putting out fires”
successive comparison of alternatives to current course, to find ways of removing
shortcomings of present approach
e. Mixed scanning: scanning: search, collection, processing, evaluating, weighing of
degree varies with importance of decision
list the alternatives and reject those with “crippling objection”
continue until one alternative remains
** Knowledge is raw material, work in process and the finished good of decision making.