Defining complex interdisciplinary societal problems

Thesis

A theoretical study for constructing a co-operative problem analyzing methodology:

the methodology COMPRAM

Dorien J. DeTombe

 

Prof. Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe
Founder and Chair International - , Euro - , West-Euro- & Dutch Operational Research Research Group Methodology of Societal Complexity
Sichuan University, Chengdu, P.R. China
Chair International Research Society on Methodology of Societal Complexity
多莉恩德通教授 华人民共和国四川省成都市 一环南路一段24 四川大学 http://www.scu.edu.cn
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, EuropeTel: +31 20 6927526  DeTombe@nosmo.nl
http://www.complexitycourse.org/doriendetombe.html  www.doriendetombe.nl
 

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Complex interdisciplinary societal problems include problems such as the fast growth of metropolitan cities in the developing countries, global environmental problems, the Aids problem, but also problems of the transport of goods and persons, and the communication of data. In all these cases knowledge and data are often missing, and there is uncertainty as to how the problem is going to develop. In addition, there are often many people and organizations involved. Many of these problems are either ill- or undefined. Before interventions can be suggested the problem needs to be defined.

This study is a fundamental theoretical approach towards a methodology for defining these problems: the COMPRAM methodology. COMPRAM stands for complex problem analyzing methodology. The methodology is based on the theory of complex interdisciplinary societal problems, systems theory and chaos theory. The methodology supports a co-operative multi-disciplinary team that analyzes the problem. The analysis is assisted by a facilitator.

Working on the basis of the theories cited above, the communication among the multi-disciplinary team is supported by a seven layer computer model in which the main phenomena involved in the problem are expressed in different models, from a verbal description to a system dynamic computer model.

Read some of the chapters

chapter 1

chapter 2

chapter 3

chapter 4

chapter 7

chapter 8

chapter 9

chapter10

 

CIP-DATA KONINKLIJKE BIBLIOTHEEK, DEN HAAG

 

DeTombe, Dorien J.

 

Defining complex interdisciplinary societal problems : a theoretical study for constructing a co-operative problem analyzing methodology: the methodology Compram / Dorien J. DeTombe,

- Amsterdam : Thesis Publishers

Also published as thesis University Utrecht, 1994. -

With ref. - With summary in Dutch.

ISBN 90-5170-302-3

NUGI 652

Subject headings: methodology/ problem analyzing / social problems/ computer science.

 

1994 Dorien J. DeTombe, Amsterdam

 

Prof. Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe
Founder and Chair International - , Euro - , West-Euro- & Dutch Operational Research Research Group Methodology of Societal Complexity
Sichuan University, Chengdu, P.R. China
Chair International Research Society on Methodology of Societal Complexity
多莉恩德通教授 中华人民共和国四川省成都市 一环南路一段24, 四川大学 http://www.scu.edu.cn
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, EuropeTel: +31 20 6927526  DeTombe@nosmo.nl
http://www.complexitycourse.org/doriendetombe.html  www.doriendetombe.nl
 

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CONTENTS 

 

INTRODUCTION 1                       

see chapter 1

1 DESIGN OF THE STUDY 5

1.0 Introduction 5 

1.1 Motivation of the theme 5

1.2 Defining the main concepts 

1.2.1 What are complex interdisciplinary societal problems? 6 

1.2.2 General characteristics of complex interdisciplinary 9 societal problems

 1.2.3 Defining a problem 10 

1.3 Scientific importance of the study 11 

1.4 Importance of the study for society 11 

1.5 Kind of study 11 

1.6 Formulation of the research problem 12 

1.7 Research questions 13 

1.8 Method of research 14 

1.9 Theoretical points of view 16

1.10 Constraints and bottlenecks 17 

1.11 Theme of the study 19 

1.12 Summary and conclusions 19

 

2 COMPLEX INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIETAL PROBLEMS 21

 

2.0 Introduction 21    

chapter 2

                                                                                                     

2.1 What is a problem and what is problem handling? 22                                       

2.1.1 What is a problem?  22                                                                     

2.1.2 Problem handling 24                                                                          

2.2 Different kinds of problems   25                                                                                 

2.3 When is a problem solved?    34                                                                                

2.4 When is something a problem?  36                                                                             

2.5 To whom is it a problem?  36                                                                                     

2.6 Interventions  37                                                                                                         

2.7 Who should handle the problem? 37                                                                           

2.8 Research question 1a    38                                                                                        

2.9 Research on problem solving      38                                                                          

2.9.1 Selz and Bahle 39

2.9.2 De Groot and problem solving in chess 39

2.9.3 Newell & Simon's theory of problem solving 44

2.9.3.1 Thinking as information processing 44

2.9.3.2 The problem space 46

2.9.3.3 Defining a problem 47

2.9.3.4 The kind of problems 47

2.9.4 Reflecting these theories of problem solving 49

2.9.5 Our ideas about problem handling 50

2.10 Differences between problems dealt with in research in cognitive       54                            

 psychology and complex interdisciplinary societal problems

2.11 Summary and conclusions 58

 

3 HUMAN PROBLEM HANDLING 63

 

chapter 3

 

3.0 Introduction 63

3.1 Sub-cycles in the problem handling process 63

3.2 Phases in the sub-cycles of the problem handling process 64

3.3 The first sub-cycle of problem handling: defining a problem 65

3.3.1 Awareness and forming a (vague) mental idea 65

3.3.2 Information processing and mental ideas 67

3.3.3 From a mental idea to a conceptual model of the problem 70

3.3.3.1 The mental idea 71

3.3.3.2 Extending the mental idea by gathering 73

information

3.3.4 Selection of hypotheses and data 74

3.3.5 Making a model of a problem 75

3.3.5.1 The use of a model 78

3.3.5.2 Kinds of models 79

3.3.5.3 Different languages in which models can be 79

expressed

3.3.5.4 Knowledge islands 80

3.3.5.5 Simulation models 81

3.3.6 The conceptual model 82

3.3.7 The aggregation level of a problem 84

3.3.8 The scope of a problem 86

3.3.8.1 When should the scope be narrowed? 88

3.3.9 The relation between problem defining and interventions 90

3.4 The second sub-cycle of problem handling: changing the problem 92

3.4.1 Constructing the empirical model 92

3.4.1.1 The empirical model in relation to reality 93

3.4.1.2 Data 93

3.4.2 The handling space 95

3.4.2.1 Levels of constraints 95

3.4.2.2 Some examples of changes of different levels 96

of contraints

3.4.2.3 Kinds of constraints 97

3.4.3 Hypotheses and interventions 98

3.4.3.1 Suggesting interventions 98

3.4.4 From an empirical model to a scenario 99

3.4.4.1 Criticism derived from the theoretical ideas of 100

complex problems

3.4.4.2 Criticism from system theory 100

3.4.4.3 Criticism from chaos theory 105

3.4.5 Interventions 108

3.5 Problem handling phases of other researchers 110

3.6 Rationality in problem handling 113

3.6.1 Decision making 114

3.7 Rational problem handling techniques 117

3.7.1 Trial and error 117

3.7.2 Algorithm 118

3.7.3 Heuristic 120

3.7.4 General problem handling techniques and domain related                        

121 problem handling techniques

3.8 Knowledge 121

3.8.1 Knowledge for problem handling 121

3.8.1.1 Domain related knowledge versus commonsense   122

knowledge

3.8.1.2 Context dependent versus context independent    122

knowledge

3.8.2 Different levels of knowledge 123

3.9 Summary and conclusions 123

 

 

4 THE COMPUTER AS A TOOL FOR THE ANALYSIS AND                         127

DEFINITION OF COMPLEX INTERDISCIPLINARY

SOCIETAL PROBLEMS

 

chapter 4

 

4.0 Introduction 127

4.1 The computer as a tool for problem handling 129

4.2 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence 130

4.2.1 The history of Artificial Intelligence 130

4.2.2 Intelligence 132

4.3 Artificial Intelligence principles 135

4.4 Problem solvers based on the paradigm of Artificial Intelligence:  137                                  

 general problem solvers and expert systems

4.4.1 The first general problem solvers 137

4.4.2 Recent general problem solvers: SOAR and ACT* 139

4.5 Expert Systems 142

4.5.1 Knowledge based systems 145

4.6 Constructing the conceptual model in a knowledge based system 149

4.7 First and second generation knowledge based systems 153

4.8 Theories about knowledge based systems 153

4.9 Summary and conclusions 155

 

5 SOME EXAMPLES OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF KNOWLEDGE 161

BASED SYSTEMS IN THE NETHERLANDS INTERMEZZO

 

5.0 Introduction 161

5.1 Constructing knowledge based systems 162

5.2 The Oil Company 163

5.3 The Banking Company 167

5.4 The Insurance Company 171

5.5 The Chemical Company 173

5.6 Some comments 177

5.7 Summary and conclusions 178

 

6 CONVENTIONAL PROGRAMS FOR SUPPORTING COMPLEX 183 INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIETAL PROBLEMS

 

6.0 Introduction 183

6.1. The difference between programs based on the paradigm of     184

Artificial Intelligence and conventional computer programs

6.2 Decision support systems 185

6.2.1 Decision support systems and management

information systems 185

6.2.2 What is a decision support system? 186

6.2.3 What are the theoretical ideas behind decision support

systems? 188

6.2.4 Which kind of problems can be supported by a decision

support system? 188 6.3 Group decision support systems 189

6.4 The performance of group decision support systems 192

6.5 Group decision support systems in relation to the analysis and 195

definition of complex interdisciplinary societal problems

6.6 Summary and conclusions 196

 

7 A METHOD FOR ANALYZING AND DEFINING COMPLEX 197 INTERDISCIPLINARY SOCIETAL PROBLEMS

 

chapter 7

 

7.0 Introduction 197

7.1 Finding a problem 198

7.1.1 Awareness of the problem 198

7.1.2 Whose problem is it and who is going to handle the 200

problem?

7.1.3 What kind of problem is it? 201

7.2 Starting handling complex interdisciplinary societal problems 202

7.2.1 Co-operative problem handling 202

7.2.2 Gathering information 202

7.2.3 Positive and negative aspects of co-operative problem 205

handling 

7.2.4 Selecting participants 214

7.3 How to construct a conceptual model 216

7.4 Computer tools to support analyzing and defining complex 219

interdisciplinary societal problems

7.5 A list of conditions for a method for analyzing and defining 230

complex interdisciplinary societal problems

7.6 Summary and conclusions 238

 

8 THE METHOD COMPRAM 241

see chapter 8

A method for co-operative analysis and definition of complex

interdisciplinary societal problems

 

8.0 Introduction 241

8.1 The aim, range and content of the method COMPRAM 241

8.2 A brief description of the method COMPRAM 250

8.3 Summary and conclusions 298

 

9 AIDS AS AN EXAMPLE OF A COMPLEX INTERDISCIPLINARY 301 SOCIETAL PROBLEM

see chapter 9

9.0 Introduction 301

9.1 Comparing theoretical statements with the empirical data of the 301

Aids problem

9.2 The relation between scenarios and reality 315

9.3 Summary and conclusions 321

 

10 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 323

see chapter 10

10.1 Summary and conclusions 323

10.2 Future research 341

 

REFERENCES 343

LIST OF FIGURES 381

APPENDICES

Appendix I : An extended description of the method COMPRAM 384          

Appendix II : Group support room 425

SUMMARY in Dutch - Nederlandse samenvatting 433

CURRICULUM VITAE 441

 

 

Dr. Dorien J. DeTombe, Ph.D.

Chair Operational Research Euro Working Group Complex Societal Problems

P.O. Box. 3286, 1001 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe

Tel: +31 20 6927526

E-Mail: DeTombe@nosmo.nl

http://www.geocities.com/doriendetombe 

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Dorien J. DeTombe, All rights reserved,     update January 2007