1. 1 Motivations Deciding is a very complex and difficult task. Some people even argue that our ability to make decisions in complex situations is the main feature that distinguishes us from animals (it is also common to say that laughing is the main difference). Nevertheless, when the task is too complex or the interests at stake are too important, it quite often happens that we do not know or we are not sure what to decide and, in many instances, we resort to a decision support technique: an informal one-we toss a coin, we ask an oracle, we visit an astrologer, we consult an expert, we think-or a formal one. Although informal decision support techniques can be of interest, in this book, we will focus on formal ones. Among the latter, we find some well-known decision support techniques: cost-benefit analysis, multiple criteria decision analysis, decision trees, . . . But there are many other ones, sometimes not presented as decision support techniques, that help making decisions. Let us cite but a few examples. When the director of a school must decide whether a given student will pass or fail, he usually asks each teacher to assess the merits of the student by means of a grade. The director then sums the grades and compares the result to a threshold. When a bank must decide whether a given client will obtain a credit or not, a technique, called credit scoring, is often used.
Walras's Market Models describes and evaluates Leon Walras's models of competitive markets. Through identification of his career phases and the associated general equilibrium models, which are shown to be very different in character, this book differs from previous examinations of his work. During his mature phase of theoretical activity, Walras was concerned with a competitive economy which passes through a phase of disequilibrium in the production and sales of commodities. While in his last phase of theoretical activity, he developed a model in which there is no production, sales, hiring, consuming or saving until an assumed set of equilibrium prices obtains of the model. The two phases of Walras's theoretical work have not previously been identified, and the models have not been subjected to an accurate analysis and evaluation.
This text aims to the gap between system theory and global climate change research. A representative set of systems problems is listed, indicating how such cross-fertilization would enhance present understanding of global problems while assisting the extension of systems theory. The goal is a comprehensive conceptual model of global change which encompasses atmosphere, lithosphere, ocean, biosphere and cryosphere. The systems model is developed in two steps using a "block diagram" approach. First, causality flows among principal components are identified and a block diagram representation is constructed. Second, mathematical description of the mappings represented by the blocks is derived from the physical principles and known disciplinary models. The generation of the "complete block diagram" is believed to be the first of its kind. A number of helpful features characterize the book. Chapter 1 provides the basic framework and organization of the book. Chapter 2 is a primer to global climate systems for the reader unfamiliar with the subject of the scientific aspects of global warming. Additionally, a representative set of relevant systems problems in global change is listed at the end of the book.
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