Mathematics Awareness Week 1996

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SIAM Expository Lecture:
Mathematics and Decision Making

SIAM Expository Lecture

Twice each year, the Washington-Baltimore Section of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) sponsors an expository lecture, open to all interested individuals, on a significant field of mathematical application. The spring 1996 event will take place on Wednesday, April 10 at the Center of Adult Education, University of Maryland University College. You are cordially invited to attend.

The speaker will be mathematician Thomas Saaty, University Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Saaty is a preeminent, internationally recognized contributor to the field of decision science. He will speak on "Mathematics and Decision Making." The lecture will begin at 8:30 p.m. in Room 1123 of the Center. It will be followed by a reception with refreshments.

You are also cordially invited to attend the pre-lecture dinner with the speaker. The dinner is a good way to meet people who share your interest in mathematics and its applications. It will be held in the Garden Room on the first floor of the Center of Adult Education starting promptly at 7:00 p.m. The menu will consist of grilled herb chicken, wild rice, fresh vegetable du jour, Caesar salad, rolls and butter, cheesecake with cherry topping, and a choice of beverage. To attend, send a check for $15.00 (made out to SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section) early enough to be received by Thursday, April 4, to the Section treasurer, David Elliott, at 9348 Cherry Hill Road, Apt. 510, College Park, MD 20740. Phone: (301) 345-4941.

To get to the Center of Adult Education, exit the Capital Beltway (495) onto New Hampshire Avenue (650) south. Turn left at the 2nd light onto Adelphi Road. Go about 2 miles and, just after passing University Boulevard (193) (the Center will be visible on your left), turn left onto Campus Drive, then left onto Presidential Drive behind the Center. The parking lot (free after 4 p.m.) will be on your right. Alternatively, for inexpensive covered parking, continue along Presidential Drive to the parking structure.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Section president, Michael Weiss, at (W) (202) 219-0462.

Abstract of Lecture:

Mathematics and Decision Making

Many important human decisions require choosing among competing, intangible alternatives while simultaneously considering multiple criteria. To complicate matters, human judgment is often neither consistent nor transitive. What kind of rigorous mathematics can assist us in measuring intangibles and then aggregating and synthesizing these measurements into a decision? Professor Saaty will describe both the mathematical foundation and real-world application of the Analytic Hierarchy Decision Process, a widely-recognized approach to this problem that he has developed. For discrete judgments, a solution is obtained from the eigenvectors of certain naturally occurring matrices. In the continuous case, the solutions are generalized functions that are identical with the representation of neural firing discovered empirically by Hodgkin and Huxley in 1952. In a more general form known as the Analytic Network Process, Professor Saaty's methods allow the kind of feedback and dependence that are common in human decision making to be represented as limiting values of matrices obtained by applying operator theory in finite dimensional spaces.

Mathematician Thomas Saaty is an internationally recognized contributor to the field of decision science. He has published widely and has served as a consultant to corporations and governments throughout the world.

Mathematics Awareness Month is sponsored each year by the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics to recognize the importance of mathematics through written materials and an accompanying poster that highlight mathematical developments and applications in a particular area.