Formal Methods of Decision Analysis Applied to Prioritization of Research and Other Topics (NUREG/CR-6833)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: August 2003
Date Published: September 2003

Prepared by:
R.W. Youngblood, W.C. Arcieri, S.A. Faridi
Information Systems Laboratories, Inc.
11140 Rockville Pike, Suite 500
Rockville, Maryland 20852

N.P. Kadambi, NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Division of Systems Analysis and Regulatory Effectiveness
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code Y6406

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This report discusses the application of methods of formal decision analysis to prioritization of research to be carried out in support of licensing of advanced reactor designs. Formal decision methods are useful in this area for two reasons. (1) Prioritization is a special case of decision-making. (2) Prioritization of safety research is closely related to safety decision-making, and formal analysis of safety decisions points the way more clearly to specific research tasks needed to support safety decisions. The report is presented in three main parts. Part I provides an overview of prioritization. Two main themes emerge from this overview: (1) the effect of uncertainty on decisions, and (2) the need to clarify decision objectives and carefully formulate decision alternatives. The first theme is taken up in Part II, and the latter in Part III. Specific topics considered include the development and use of an objectives hierarchy, kinds of performance measures, and the value of information to reduce uncertainty, including a discussion of hypothesis testing and "Receiver Operating Characteristic Curves." Many agency decisions could arguably benefit from application of individual tools discussed here, although application of the full suite of formal decision-analysis tools may not be warranted in all cases.

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