Professional Societies DAS, SDP Mark Fiftieth Anniversary of Decision Analysis

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The Decision Analysis Society and the Society of Decision Professionals, two professional organizations dedicated to advancing the field of decision analysis, bookend a year of celebration with a kickoff conference in Boston and a concluding gala event in San Francisco.


A 50th anniversary logo was commissioned for use in publications, events, webinars, and other activities that commemorate 50 years of decision analysis.

Decision analysis has by now helped many thousands of decision-makers, and has created many billions of dollars of value for the economy through better business decisions and better government policies.

Marking the 50th anniversary year of decision analysis, the Decision Analysis Society (DAS) and the Society of Decision Professionals (SDP) today announced plans for a series of events and activities in recognition of the evolution of the field over the past five decades.

Decision analysis is the discipline incorporating decision theory, methodology, and professional practice guiding decision-making under uncertainty. While elements of decision analysis have existed for hundreds of years, it was the work of Professor Howard Raiffa of Harvard University and Professor Ronald Howard of Stanford University beginning in 1964 that brought it into mainstream use by corporations and government entities for making complex decisions.

“Ron Howard and Howard Raiffa gave us a logical and systematic set of principles to enhance our clarity of thought and enable us to act with confidence in the face of uncertainty,” said Jim Felli, president of the Society of Decision Professionals, an association of professional practitioners.

Decision analysis emerged as a distinct academic field in 1964, building on developments in statistical decision theory and game theory by Raiffa and dynamic probabilistic systems by Howard. In that year, Raiffa began teaching the first university course in decision analysis within the Economics Department at Harvard and began preparing material for his 1968 book, Decision Analysis. Also in 1964, but independently, Howard conducted the first professional application of the field he called “decision analysis,” which he described in his 1966 paper, “Decision Analysis: Applied Decision Theory.”

Since then, major corporations have adopted decision analysis to improve multibillion dollar capital decisions. Chevron, for example, publicly announced in 2010 that it uses decision analysis in all major decisions.

“Decision analysis has by now helped many thousands of decision-makers, and has created many billions of dollars of value for the economy through better business decisions and better government policies,” said Professor Jeff Keisler, president of the Decision Analysis Society, a subdivision of INFORMS, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

“While we have come a long way in 50 years, we still have a long way to go to improve the many important decisions that shape the future,” said Howard, who is still active as a professor in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford.

Events marking the anniversary are scheduled throughout the year, beginning with a conference in Boston March 27 – 28 featuring a keynote address by Howard himself. The conference will take place at the Hyatt Boston Harbor Hotel and is sponsored by the Decision Analysis Affinity Group (DAAG), a multi-industry organization of decision analysis practitioners. The conference agenda includes a panel discussion on the past, present, and future of the field.

The anniversary year will culminate in a gala event Nov. 8 in San Francisco that will honor both Howard and Raiffa. This event is sponsored by the Decision Analysis Society and the Society of Decision Professionals. “The Decision Analysis Society is looking forward to honoring Professors Howard and Raiffa for their work that has made an indelible impression on our field and our lives,” said Eric Bickel, president-elect of the Decision Analysis Society.

In connection with the anniversary celebration, INFORMS will feature additional sessions on the practice of decision analysis at its annual conference Nov. 9 – 12 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

In addition, look for special publications, local events, and webinars to celebrate this anniversary year. The two organizations commissioned a fiftieth anniversary logo for use by anyone wanting to tie publications, events, or activities to the anniversary year. The selection committee used a form of crowdsourcing to develop the logo, selecting a winning design from 75 that were submitted.

About DAS & SDP
The Decision Analysis Society (DAS) is a subdivision of INFORMS. Founded in 1980, the Decision Analysis Society promotes the development and use of logical methods for improving decision-making in public and private enterprise. For more information, visit

The Society of Decision Professionals (SDP) supports decision professionals to become the trusted advisors of choice for decision makers facing important and complex decisions. The Society fosters collaboration, continual learning, and networking amongst its members and other professional societies and organizations so that as a growing community we can bring clarity and insight to decision-makers. For more information, visit

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Hilda Cherekdjian, Executive Director

Eric Bickel