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The Analytic Network Process for Decision-Making

The Analytic Network Process for Decision-Making The Analytic Network Process (ANP) is the most comprehensive framework for the analysis of societal, governmental and corporate decisions that is available today to the decision-maker. It is a process that allows one to include all the factors and criteria, tangible and intangible that have bearing on making a best decision. The Analytic Network Process allows both interaction and feedback within clusters of elements (inner dependence) and between clusters (outer dependence). Such feedback best captures the complex effects of interplay in human society, especially when risk and uncertainty are involved.

The ANP, developed by Thomas L. Saaty, provides a way to input judgments and measurements to derive ratio scale priorities for the distribution of influence among the factors and groups of factors in the decision. Because the process is based on deriving ratio scale measurements, it can be used to allocate resources according to their ratio-scale priorities. The well-known decision theory, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is a special case of the ANP. Both the AHP and the ANP derive ratio scale priorities for elements and clusters of elements by making paired comparisons of elements on a common property or criterion. Although many decision problems are best studied through the ANP, one may wish to compare the results obtained with it to those obtained using the AHP or any other decision approach with respect to the time it took to obtain the results, the effort involved in making the judgments, and the relevance and accuracy of the results.

ANP models have two parts: the first is a control hierarchy or network of objectives and criteria that control the interactions in the system under study; the second are the many sub-networks of influences among the elements and clusters of the problem, one for each control criterion.

The ANP has been applied to a large variety of decisions: marketing, medical, political, social, forecasting and prediction and many others. Its accuracy of prediction is impressive in applications that have been made to economic trends, sports and other events for which the outcome later became known. Detailed case studies of applications are included in the ANP software manual and in the book, The Analytic Network Process: Decision Making with Dependence and Feedback, by Thomas L. Saaty. The book is available from RWS Publications, 4922 Ellsworth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA; phone number: 412-414-5984; fax: 412-681-4510.  Contact Decision Lens Inc. for more information about decision-making software for business and government at 703-399-2100 or www.decisionlens.com