B6015: Decision Models


Need help with Excel's Solver: Check out this page: SolverFAQ
Crystal Ball Software: As described in the syllabus, the course will use a piece of software called Crystal Ball version 2000. The software will be distributed to the students in class. We will start using it in class in Lecture 9. If you go to the bookstore you might see Crystal Ball Version 4.0 (an earlier version that does not work with Office 2000). That version is there for students of a different course (Exec MBA  B7015). Do not buy Version 4.0 from the bookstore!
Didn't get a readings book? There should be extra copies in 208 Warren.
Getting started with Solver: To get started using solver, simply go to Excel and then choose ToolsSolver. If Solver is not there, then you will need to go to ToolsAddIns and check off "Solver Add In". Then click OK and go back to the Tools menu. Now solver should be there. Check the SolverFAQ file for additional help.
Article from WSJ on decision models in the airline industry: wsjarticle.pdf
SolverTable can be downloaded here. NOTE: If you cannot get SolverTable to work on your computer, then you will have to resolve the problems as we usually do (go to solver, hit solve). It is not absolutely essential that you get SolverTable working.
Adobe Acrobat Reader: All lecture notes on this web page are saved in PDF format. They can be viewed and printed using Adobe Acrobat Reader (To download click here and follow the instructions.)
ljr@urbitran.com 
3rd Floor Uris / 2123666200 x1224 
Office Hours: Tues & Thurs 23pm 
jm531@columbia.edu 
Cubicle 4P 
Office Hours: TBA 
This course provides an introduction to computerbased models for decision making. The emphasis is on models that are widely used in diverse industries and functional areas, including finance, accounting, operations, and marketing. Applications will include production planning, supply chain management, foreign exchange and commodity trading, assetliability management, portfolio optimization, corporate risk management, and yield management, among others.
The aim of the course is to help students become intelligent consumers of these methods. To this end, the course will cover the basic elements of modeling  how to formulate a model and how to use and interpret the information a model produces. The course will attempt to instill a critical viewpoint towards decision models, recognizing that they are powerful but limited tools.
The applicability and usage of computerbased models have increased dramatically in recent years, due to the extraordinary improvements in computer, information and communication technologies, including not just hardware but also modelsolution techniques and user interfaces. Twenty years ago working with a model meant using an expensive mainframe computer, learning a complex programming language, and struggling to compile data by hand; the entire process was clearly marked "experts only." The rise of personal computers, friendly interfaces (such as spreadsheets), and large data bases has made modeling far more accessible to managers. Information has come to be recognized as a critical resource, and models play a key role in deploying this resource, in organizing and structuring information so that it can be used productively.
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The textbook is available at the Columbia Bookstore. A readings book will also be handed out the first day of class with a Crystal Ball disk. The manual for Crystal Ball is available on that disk. The text is also on reserve in the business school library.
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We will use spreadsheets fairly extensively throughout the course. In the lectures we will refer to the Excel 97 spreadsheet package for Windows 95. This spreadsheet has extensive optimization capabilities built in. Crystal Ball is an addin for Excel which makes it much easier to run simulations in a spreadsheet.
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There will be two homework assignments that will be assigned during the course. The homeworks are individual assignments, and are designed as practice for the final exam. The main case case can be done in groups of five or less and is due Wednesday, October 18 at 5:00 pm. In addition for many of the class sessions, you will be asked to prepare a case for discussion in class.
The readings book has a set of practice problems. Many of these practice problems were based on past midterm and final examination questions. Some spreadsheets (in Excel .XLS format) related to these problems can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. The TA will go over the solutions to selected problems during the Friday review sessions or during office hours. Additional practice problems can be found throughout the W&A text.
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There will be four hours for the final exam, although most students should be able to finish in three hours or less. The exam will be open book and open notes. A common final exam will be used for all sections of the course. Notebook computers will be needed in the final exam. Think of the computer as a fancy calculator: it is useful for checking one's work and for some questions the computer will be needed to get final answers. However, the majority of the points on the exam will be given for correct methods and analysis; correct numbers will only count for a small portion of the points. Printing will not be allowed in the final exam. Any answers from the computer must be transcribed into the answer book.
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The course grade will be based on a weighted average of the homeworks, main case, and the final exam. The weights will be 20% for the homeworks, 30% for the main case, and 50% for the final.
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Notebook PCs will be used in this course. It is recommended that students bring their notebook PCs to the Friday review sessions for softwarerelated questions. Students should bring their notebook PCs to class on Lecture 8. Also, notebook computers will be needed for the final exam.
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There will be weekly review sessions for the course. They will be held in Fridays from 1:202:40pm, Room TBA. The TA will go over practice problems and answer any computer related questions. It is recommended that students bring their notebook PCs to the Friday review sessions for softwarerelated questions.
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Date  Topic  For next class  Download  
Lecture 1  Thu 9/07 


bland0.xls bland.xls 
Lecture 2  Tue 9/12 


trans0.xls trans.xls staffing0.xls staffing.xls shelby0.xls shelby.xls shelbytables.xls petromor.pdf 
Lecture 3  Thu 9/14 


petromor0.xls petromor.xls shelbyST.xls 
Lecture 4  Tue 9/19 


nsc0.xls nsc.xls projfund0.xls projfund.xls projfundwithST.xls 
Lecture 5  Thu 9/21 


plant0.xls plant.xls plant_if.xls invest0.xls invest.xls investST.xls EmoryUArticle 
Lecture 6  Tue 9/26 


tenstocks.xls tenstocks0.xls tenstockswithshorting.xls tenstockswithint.xls negcorrel.xls highcorrel.xls lowcorrel.xls 
Lecture 7  Thu 9/28 


gold.xls gold0.xls retail.xls retailzipfile 
Lecture 8  Tue 10/3 


ret_lp0.xls ret_lp.xls 
Lecture 9  Thu 10/5 


coin.xls asianoil0.xls asianoil.xls 
Lecture 10  Tue 10/10 


ski0.xls ski.xls ski2.xls 
Lecture 11  Thu 10/12 


merck_u0.xls merck_u.xls merck0.xls merck.xls 
Lecture 12  Tue 10/17 

putnam.xls putnam0.xls premier.xls premier0.xls 

Final Exam  10/20: 10am1pm Open Book, Open Notes, Bring your computer! 
SampleSolutions.pdf briton.xls nifty.xls 
#  Name  Excel Files 
ZIP  All Optimization Practice Problem Files (Zipped)  optprobs.zip 
1  ABC Manufacturing  abc.xls 
2  B. Hall Real Estate Investment  hall_inv.xls 
3  Joe's Delicatessen  deli.xls and deli2.xls 
4  Bland Brewery Graphical Solution  bland2.xls 
5  Advertising Mix  advr.xls 
6  Power Plant  pplant.xls 
7  Police Scheduling  sched.xls and sched_b.xls 
8  Ajax Shoe Company  ajax.xls 
9  Pension Problem  pension.xls 
10  Tax Planning  taxlp.xls 
11  Devcor Corporation  devcor.xls and devcor_b.xls 
12  Options Problem  option_a.xls, option_c.xls and option_d.xls 
13  Veggie Soup  veggie.xls 
14  Calico Cassette  ccc.xls and ccc_b.xls 
15  Dale Distribution System  dale.xls 
16  Hackensack Blended Whiskey  whiskey.xls 
#  Name  Excel Files 
ZIP  All Simulation Practice Problem Files (Zipped)  simprobs.zip 
1  Express Mail Staffing  mail.xls 
2  Bakery Department  bakery.xls 
3  Bond Return  bond.xls 