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An evolutionary Bayesian belief network methodology for participatory decision making under uncertainty: An application to groundwater management



An integrated participatory approach based on Bayesian belief network (BBN) and evolutionary multiobjective optimization is proposed as an efficient decision-making tool in complex management problems. The proposed methodology incorporates all the available evidence and conflicting objectives to evaluate implications of alternative actions in the decision-making process and suggests best decision pathways under uncertainty. A BBN provides a framework within which the contributions of stakeholders can be taken into account. It allows a range of different factors and their probabilistic relationship to be considered simultaneously. It takes into account uncertainty by assigning probability to those variables whose states are not certain. The integration of BBN with evolutionary multiobjective optimization allows the analysis of tradeoff between different objectives and incorporation and acknowledgement of a broader set of decision goals into the search and decision-making process. The proposed methodology can be used as a decision support tool to model decision-making processes for complex problems. It deals with uncertainties in decision making pertaining to human behavior and checks for consistency of the developed BBN structure and the parameters of the probabilistic relationship by uncovering discrepancies in the decision analysis process (e.g., bias in completeness or redundancy of the model based on a utility function). It generates a set of efficient management options (appropriate combinations of interventions) that balances conflicting objectives. The effectiveness of the proposed methodology is discussed through application to a real case study. It is shown that it successfully identifies any inconsistencies in the developed BBN models and generates large numbers of management options that achieve an optimal tradeoff between different objectives. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2012; 8: 456–461. © SETAC