© 2020

Building Decision Support Systems

using MiniZinc


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Mark Wallace
    Pages 1-8
  3. Mark Wallace
    Pages 9-26
  4. Mark Wallace
    Pages 27-35
  5. Mark Wallace
    Pages 37-47
  6. Mark Wallace
    Pages 49-68
  7. Mark Wallace
    Pages 69-84
  8. Mark Wallace
    Pages 85-111
  9. Mark Wallace
    Pages 113-132
  10. Mark Wallace
    Pages 133-164
  11. Mark Wallace
    Pages 165-175
  12. Mark Wallace
    Pages 177-193
  13. Mark Wallace
    Pages 195-200
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 201-224

About this book


This book introduces readers to the principles of intelligent decision support systems (IDSS) and how to build them with MiniZinc, a free, open-source constraint programming language. Managing an IDSS project requires an understanding of the system’s design and behaviour.  The book enables readers to appreciate what “combinatorial” optimisation problems are, and how modelling a problem provides the basis for solving it. It also presents the main algorithms for tackling decision support problems, discusses their strengths and weaknesses, and explores ways of achieving the necessary scalability when problems become big.  Moreover, to support the learning process it allows readers to try out the ideas described in the text on model applications and puzzles.

The book highlights the potential benefits of deploying an IDSS.  It enables users to recognise the key risks involved and identify which techniques can be applied to minimise them, and to understand the decision support technology sufficiently in order to manage or monitor an IDSS project. It also helps readers distinguish between good sense and mere jargon when dealing with anyone involved in an IDSS project, from sales personnel to software implementers. As such it especially appeals to graduate students and advanced professionals who need to learn how to build an IDSS and to tackle the problems on the way.


Decision Support Systems Operations Research MiniZinc Problem Solving Methods Constraint Programming Optimization

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Information TechnologyMonash UniversityCaulfield EastAustralia

About the authors

Mark Wallace is a leader in discrete optimisation at the Faculty of Information Technology at Monash University, Australia. He spent 21 years at the UK computer manufacturer ICL, moving from global marketing, to development, and finally to research.  At Imperial College London he led the Constraint Programming team, whose software was purchased by Cisco Systems.  In Australia, he founded the  company Opturion, to productise and deploy a constraint modelling system now used in Australia’s leading logistics companies. His research  tackles the integration of multiple optimisation techniques and algorithms and their  application to solving complex resource planning and scheduling problems.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Consumer Packaged Goods
Finance, Business & Banking


​"This book provides an insightful and thoughtful introduction to developing decision support systems, as well as to MiniZinc; newcomers to one or both will find the plentiful examples, thoughtful exercises and relaxed writing style the best way to learn these concepts and software." (Chris Battiston, Womens College Hospital, Toronto, Canada)

"A very accessible introduction to intelligent decision support systems, with many helpful examples, written by an author who has an exceptional combination of experience with both the science and its application. A variety of approaches to modelling and solving decision support problems are covered in a single volume. The book presents an aspect of artificial intelligence that is less well known to the general public, but nevertheless has been very widely and successfully employed in real-world applications. There is something here for everyone from the general reader to the practitioner. One can even (optionally) learn something about implemention with MiniZinc, freely available software. The book could be especially valuable to those seeking to acquire and employ intelligent decision support systems." (Eugene Freuder, Professor Emeritus, University College Cork, Ireland)