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These findings have important implicationsfor public policy. A recent example is the lobbying effort of thecredit card industry to have differentials between cash andcredit prices labeled "cash discounts" rather than"credit surcharges." The research findings raisequestions about how to phrase cigarette warning labels or frametruth-in-lending laws and informed consent laws.

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The development of SEU theory was a majorintellectual achievement of the first half of this century. Itgave for the first time a formally axiomatized statement of whatit would mean for an agent to behave in a consistent, rationalmatter. It assumed that a decision maker possessed a utilityfunction (an ordering by preference among all the possibleoutcomes of choice), that all the alternatives among which choicecould be made were known, and that the consequences of choosingeach alternative could be ascertained (or, in the version of thetheory that treats of choice under uncertainty, it assumed that asubjective or objective probability distribution of consequenceswas associated with each alternative). By admitting subjectivelyassigned probabilities, SEU theory opened the way to fusingsubjective opinions with objective data, an approach that canalso be used in man-machine decision-making systems. In theprobabilistic version of the theory, Bayes's rule prescribeshow people should take account of new information and how theyshould respond to incomplete information.

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The assumptions of SEU theory are very strong,permitting correspondingly strong inferences to be made fromthem. Although the assumptions cannot be satisfied even remotelyfor most complex situations in the real world, they may besatisfied approximately in some microcosms--problem situationsthat can be isolated from the world's complexity and dealtwith independently. For example, the manager of a commercialcattle-feeding operation might isolate the problem of finding theleast expensive mix of feeds available in the market that wouldmeet all the nutritional requirements of his cattle. Thecomputational tool of linear programming, which is a powerfulmethod for maximizing goal achievement or minimizing costs whilesatisfying all kinds of side conditions (in this case, thenutritional requirements), can provide the manager with anoptimal feed mix--optimal within the limits of approximation ofhis model to real world conditions. Linear programming andrelated operations research techniques are now used widely tomake decisions whenever a situation that reasonably fits theirassumptions can be carved out of its complex surround. Thesetechniques have been especially valuable aids to middlemanagement in dealing with relatively well-structured decisionproblems.

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On the basis of these studies, some of the generalheuristics, or rules of thumb, that people use in makingjudgments have been compiled---heuristics that produce biasestoward classifying situations according to theirrepresentativeness, or toward judging frequencies according tothe availability of examples in memory, or toward interpretationswarped by the way in which a problem has been framed.

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Nothing has been said so far about the radicalchanges that have been brought about in problem solving over mostof the domains of science and engineering by the standard uses ofcomputers as computational devices. Although a few examples cometo mind in which artificial intelligence has contributed to thesedevelopments, they have mainly been brought about by research inthe individual sciences themselves, combined with work innumerical analysis.

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The Ontario Curriculum Grade 11 and 12: English, 2007

Central to the body of prescriptive knowledge aboutdecision making has been the theory of subjective expectedutility (SEU), a sophisticated mathematical model of choice thatlies at the foundation of most contemporary economics,theoretical statistics, and operations research. SEU theorydefines the conditions of perfect utility-maximizing rationalityin a world of certainty or in a world in which the probabilitydistributions of all relevant variables can be provided by thedecision makers. (In spirit, it might be compared with a theoryof ideal gases or of frictionless bodies sliding down inclinedplanes in a vacuum.) SEU theory deals only with decision making;it has nothing to say about how to frame problems, set goals, ordevelop new alternatives.