This conference is intended to jump-start a new field: Comparative Decision Making Studies (CDMS). CDMS will focus on the many ways that social, economic and computational decision making studies can leverage methods and results across disciplinary boundaries, especially the ways computational thinking can change the types of questions considered by social and economic scientists.
The conference will accomplish three goals, by facilitating a discussion among scholars from various academic backgrounds and individuals applying decision-making in society. First, we will encourage transplanting techniques and insights across research programs and traditions, highlighting the similarities and differences among established approaches. Second, we will identify the most important current issues in decision making research and discuss how collaboration across disciplines and between academia and the consulting industry can facilitate the emergence of important new theories, empirical methods, and applications. Finally, we will justify and promote the CDM approach in the scientific community and consulting industry.
, held in May 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky (conference website: www.uky.edu/cdm/conference.php). The purpose of the conference was to foster a dialogue across academic disciplines regarding the study of decision-making. To this end, the conference brought together researchers and scholars from a number of fields: psychology, biology, economics, law, political science, computer science, and many others. The keystone of the conference was a set of presentations by fourteen distinguished speakers, discussing their fields in general, their specific lines of research, and the potential for interdisciplinary crossovers. Complementing these formal presentations, moderated discussion sessions provided the opportunity for other scholars to engage with the speakers and each other, building on the ideas presented and allowing for a deeper inquiry into specific aspects of decision-making and related research. This exchange promoted sharing of ideas and created a network that will facilitate future research collaborations. The conference also promoted involvement by students from a number of institutions. In addition to attending the presentations, students had the opportunity to showcase their own research in a poster session, receiving feedback from the assembled speakers and other scholars. NSF support enabled attendance, in the form of travel grants, for several out-of-state students and those from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. Student involvement allowed them to benefit from the knowledge and experience of established experts, as well as providing inspiration for future research endeavors and careers. Beyond the conference itself, this project has led to several other lasting impacts. The fourteen invited speakers also contributed chapters to a book, Comparative Decision-Making Analysis, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Additional contributions to the book from other conference participants capture the back-and-forth dialogue that arose from the conference and related discussions. In addition, material from the book and conference have aided the development of a new course, Topics in Artificial Intelligence: Comparative Decision-Making Studies, taught at the University of Kentucky by one of the conference organizers, Dr. Judith Goldsmith. These efforts will extend the benefits of the project and NSF support well into the future.