In celebration of Mathematics Awareness Week at U. Mass., Professor Joseph Horowitz gave a lecture entitled "Mathematics and Hard Decisions." The
talk drew an audience of over a hundred people, including most of the graduate
students, many faculty members, a number of undergraduates, various people
from outside the department (including the Dean of Natural Sciences
and Mathematics), and several guests. Judging from the comments after
the lecture, it was very well received. Following is a press release issued for the event.
Public Lecture on "Mathematics and Hard Decisions" at U. Mass.
to Celebrate Mathematics Awareness Week (April 21-27)
Mathematics and Decision Making is the theme for this year's
Mathematics Awareness Week, which is observed nationwide during April
21-27. Celebrations and activities will take place at colleges,
universities, and research facilities all across the country. Special
events will include public lectures, mathematical games and
competitions, and visits by high school students to college campuses.
At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the Department of
Mathematics and Statistics will present a public lecture entitled
"Mathematics and Hard Decisions" by one of its faculty members,
Professor Joseph Horowitz.
Decision analysis is a mathematical subject that can help in making
hard decisions in virtually any field. It has been used by businesses
to make decisions about launching new products, by government agencies
in deciding where to site nuclear waste facilities, and by doctors in
making diagnostic and treatment decisions. Decision analysis can also
be used for personal decisions, for example, personal investment or
medical decisions. In recent years there has been rapid development
of computerized decision support systems that open up the possibility
of the widespread use of decision analysis for business, professional,
and personal decisions on a more or less routine basis.
Decision analysis shows how to account for the decision maker's
attitude toward risk, the uncertainty in the situation, and the often
conflicting values attached to different outcomes. It gives a
framework for understanding difficult decision situations more clearly
and for making decisions that incorporate all the available
information in the best possible way.
Professor Horowitz's lecture will include a survey of decision
analysis, with discussion of how to quantify the seemingly
unquantifiable, how to be precise about uncertainty, and what it means
for a decision to be "rational". He will then consider examples in
various areas, and look at some of the current "technology" of
decision analysis and its use in medical decision making. The lecture
is intended for a general audience and members of the public are
invited to attend.
Mathematics Awareness Week is sponsored each year by the American
Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and the
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics for the purpose of
informing the general public about the importance of mathematics in
science and society and to encourage young people to consider study
and careers in mathematics and related fields.
For more information, please contact:
Professor Joseph Horowitz
University of Massachusetts at Amherst