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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Heilman, Philip - Phil
item Davis, Greg
item Lawrence, Paul
item Hatfield, John
item Huddleston, John

Submitted to: Environmental Modeling International Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/15/2003
Publication Date: 9/15/2003
Citation: Heilman, P., Davis, G., Lawrence, P., Hatfield, J., Huddleston, J. 2003. The facilitator-an open source effort to support multiobjective decision making. Proc. 1st Biennial Meeting of the Internat'l. Environ. Modelling and Software Soc. 3:253-258.

Interpretive Summary: Many natural resource management issues require assessing tradeoffs. Conservation tillage, for example, is designed to conserve soil, but it could also require the use of additional herbicides for weed control, or move agrichemicals toward groundwater rather than surface water. Such problems are called "multiobjective" because the producers, and society, have more than one objective when selecting a management system. An existing computer program, which could be classified as a multiobjective decision support system, the "Facilitator", has been revised and released so that the underlying Java computer code is available to other researchers or natural resource managers to use, or modify for their particular problems. There are some restrictions under the Mozilla Public License, primarily to acknowledge the where the code came from, but the source code is free. The Facilitator is the result of collaboration between the ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center and Australia's Queensland Department of Natural Resources. We hope that by making the source code available other researchers will use it, but more importantly, that the other researchers will contribute additional functionality that we can use as well.

Technical Abstract: Multiobjective Decision Support technology has matured to the point where new efforts should incorporate components of existing systems, rather than build everything from scratch. To help such efforts, the Java source code to a multiobjective decision support system called "The Facilitator" has been revised and released under the Mozilla Public License. This open source effort will be of interest to three groups. First, anyone needing a tool for multiobjective decision support can use the Facilitator. Users familiar with Java can now see how actions in the Facilitator are implemented or modify the user interface, such as to change the interface to a language other than English. Second, the open source approach might appeal to decision support problems that focus on quantifying management effects in a particular problem domain, rather than on developing another multiobjective decision component. Third, those with a different weighting or ranking algorithm for making multiobjective decisions could integrate that algorithm into the Facilitator. The community of researchers developing decision support tools for environmental problems is too small relative to the magnitude of environmental problems, making cooperation essential.

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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