Contingent Analysis for Project Management Using Multiple Worlds
This article reports on creating and analyzing contingencies in project plans using an Artificial Intelligence (AI) technique called “multiple worlds”. Using modest extensions of common expert systems techniques, we specified decisions which a project manager might have to make, implications of those decisions, criteria for quickly excluding scenarios of little interest, and criteria for evaluating scenarios of potential interest. Hybridized with a rule and a frame system of a knowledge-based system development shell, the multiple worlds facility automatically generates all possible contingencies, applies user-specified selection criteria to eliminate uninteresting scenarios, analyzes remaining contingencies with respect to the user-specified evaluation criteria, presents results to the user graphically and supports interactive analysis of alternatives. We illustrate use of these techniques with an example. Our experience with a prototype project management application indicates that users can develop intuitive understanding of the implications of local decisions by analyzing contingencies using the multiple worlds facility. We speculate that users develop intuitive understanding as they select particular decision options and easily identify both their local detailed and their global implications. The multiple worlds facility operates quickly and thus allows the user to work interactively. In addition, the multiple worlds facility is hybridized in a knowledge-based system shell which presents results graphically and allows the user to change scenarios easily.
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