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Topic 1
1.1 Synopsis


Decision Mathematics is, broadly, the application of mathematical modeling to solve real world problems. Decision Mathematics involves algorithm methods to obtain optimal solutions. If the first effort to find an appropriate solution is ineffectual, repeated attempts can be evaluated to get the right solution. A variety of strategies will guide us towards better decision. In this topic, we would be able to recognize the links between decision mathematics and its applications in our everyday life.


Learning Outcomes 1. State five areas in which decision mathematics could be used to solve problems. 2. State what kind of questions that can be answered from decision mathematics. 3. Explain reasons for teaching decision mathematics in schools.


Conceptual Framework

Introduction to Decision Mathematics What is Decision Mathematics? Tools in Decision Mathematics

1.4 What is Decision Mathematics? 1


You will have already met, in the field of Statistics, the distinction between continuous and discrete data. Continuous data can take any value in a numerical range: measurements of height, weight and time all produce continuous data. Discrete data can only take values which are strictly separated from each other: measurements of number of children in a class or the number of words in a sentence are discrete data which take only whole-number values. In the 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton and other leading mathematicians started the development of calculus, which deals specifically with continuous data, and graphs which are generally smooth. Decision Mathematics deals only with branches of mathematics which do not employ the continuous methods of calculus. However, the distinction between continuous and discrete sometimes becomes blurred. For example, computers essentially deal in discrete mathematics, because they hold numbers using sequences of 1s and 0s, and can only hold a finite amount of information. However, advanced computers can work to a very high degree of accuracy, and can do very good approximations to continuous mathematics. They can give approximate solutions to equations which otherwise could not be solved. Computer screens are divided into pixels (the word is a contraction of picture elements), and so computer and TV screens are essentially discrete devices. However, because the discrete pixels are so small, the images on the screen appear continuous. But all this is only part of the definition of Decision Mathematics. Part of working with computers is the idea of a procedure, or algorithm, to solve a problem. You probably know an algorithm which enables you to find the answer to a long multiplication given the two numbers you wish to multiply. Algorithms form a substantial part of Decision Mathematics. In this course, most of the algorithms will be topics related to the best use of time and resources. These have applications in industry, business, computing and in military matters.


Internet Exploration To understand the meaning of Decision Mathematics, you need to explore and read the following articles:


Tools in Decision Mathematics

Decision Mathematics is, broadly, the application of mathematical modeling to solve real world problems, often arising from managing commercial and industrial concerns. To use the power of mathematics to solve problems you first need to capture the essence of the real world problem in mathematical form. This move from the real world into the world of mathematics is known as mathematical modeling. It needs simplifying assumptions so that the mathematical problem which is extracted is tractable. Having extracted a mathematical problem the next stage is to use mathematical techniques to solve the problem. Management problems usually require decisions to be made, and more often than not they lead to mathematical problems which are discrete in nature. Thus the techniques of decision mathematics are not usually calculus based, but involve algorithmic approaches efficient ways of finding the best out of many possible decisions. But it is not enough to solve the mathematical model. The solution must be interpreted back into the real world to see if it points to a solution to the original real world problem. At first attempt it probably will not the essential simplifying assumptions may result in the problem not having been completely encapsulated by the mathematics. If this is the case then the second loop around the modeling cycle (iteration) will be needed. Here the assumptions are reviewed and modified,


and the consequences followed. A third of fourth cycle may be needed, as many as are required until an accepted solution is achieved. Finally, a report has to be completed. It is of no benefit to have worked through the process and arrived at a satisfactory conclusion if the manager who has responsibility for making the decision cannot be convinced of the reliability of your work. So there is a need to be able to communicate complex ideas clearly, yet thoroughly.

Things to do: Topic 1.1: 1. Read the is dmath and state five areas in which Decision Mathematics could be used to solve problems. 2. Read the article: and state what kind of questions that can be answered from Discrete Mathematics. 3. Read schools. the article:

intro.html and explain the reasons for teaching Decision Mathematics in

Reminder: Keep your notes and printed materials in your portfolio.


References Parramore, K., et. al. (2004). Decision Mathematics 1. 3rd ed. U.K. Hodder Murray Parramore, K., et. al. (2004). Decision Mathematics 2 and C . 3rd ed. U.K. Hodder Murray

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