9Decision Making with Fuzzy Information

To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene I, 1602

The passage from Shakespeare represents a classic decision situation for humans. It is expressed in natural language—the form of information most used by humans and most ignored in computer‐assisted decision making. But as suggested many other times in this text, this is the nature of the problem engineers face every day: how do we embed natural fuzziness into our otherwise crisp engineering paradigms? Shakespeare would undoubtedly rejoice to learn that his question now has a whole range of possibilities available between the extremes of existence that he originally suggested. Ultimately, the decisions may be binary, as originally posed by Shakespeare in this passage from Hamlet, but there should certainly be no restrictions on the usefulness of fuzzy information in the process of making a decision or of coming to some consensus.

Decision making is a most important scientific, social, and economic endeavor. To be able to make consistent and correct choices is the essence of any decision process imbued with uncertainty. Most issues in life, as trivial as we might consider them, involve decision processes of one form or another. From the moment we wake in the morning to the time we place ...

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