Web site: http://msl1.mit.edu/mib/dsp/curricula.mit.edu/~dsplan
Revision: September 2001
This subject is substantially different from previous offerings with the same numbers
It builds upon previous versions; namely those called "Engineering Systems Analysis" and, more recently, "Dynamic Strategic Planning." Much of the basic material is similar. However, the focus is now squarely on the systems analysis tools useful for designing and managing important technical projects operating in the inevitably risky environment. Specifically, it culminates in the presentation of the several methods of analyzing "real options." Many researchers and practitioners believe that these techniques will revolutionize the way we will develop and manage complex projects. Indeed, a number of implementations have already demonstrated gains in overall performance of 10 to 30 percent. These are significant opportunities.
Organization of Syllabus
The syllabus consists of 2 major blocks covering 5 interlocking topics.
Part 1 covers the elements of engineering systems analysis in the context of certainty:
Part 2 presents the techniques for analyzing systems in the context of uncertainty. These are:
The full course builds upon a basic knowledge of calculus and of probability. Recognizing the variety of backgrounds among the students, it presents all the more advanced material required. However, it expects that students are mathematically agile and that many students will have seen several of the methods in some context or another. The course therefore presents the more advanced mathematical treatments rapidly, focussing on the essential elements.
Students should either already be familiar with spreadsheet programs, or spend extra time at the beginning of the course to become familiar with Excel©.
In the short version of the course given at Cambridge University, the instructors expect the participants to be familiar with the material in Part 1.
The text for the course is Applied Systems Analysis (R. de Neufville, McGraw-Hill, 1990). Participants can get photocopied versions from the Teaching Assistant for the subject for $20. Book versions are unavailable except in the library. Prof. de Neufville is preparing a completely revised version of the text.
Software for course is Treeage© (student edition) also available from the Teaching Assistant for $ 20.
Students will find it convenient to have their own copy of both the software and the text, but may share with colleagues if they want. The assignments assume that each student has these materials readily available, including in the final exam.
Additionally, participants can view and download copies of the pdf versions of the PowerPoint slides on the web site for the course. As the instructors will routinely improve their presentations as the course proceeds, the web versions of the slides may differ from those actually shown in class. Every effort will be made to keep the web site current up-to-date, even after the presentations.
The course web site (at top of this file) is the primary means of distributing basic information about the course. It contains the:
Students will be using Treeage© (student edition) to work on assignments.
Weekly problem-solving sessions will occur at times the instructors will establish in consultation with the class.
Prof. de Neufville will be available for at least half an hour after each class for immediate questions and comments. Students can also make appointments with him for personal discussions.
The teachers will base grades principally on written material: homework, the mid-semester quiz and a final examination. The approximate weights are:
They will modulate the final grade by an appreciation of the participant's progress throughout the semester. Those who finish strongly and demonstrate that they have, at the end, mastered the material will receive more credit for these final grades.
Examples of previous mid-semester quizzes are posted on the web page, in the "Exercises" section, as Exercises 15 -- 17. These indicate the kind of questions that will appear on future mid-semester quizzes. However, note that their content may not match the current syllabus, so that future quizzes may cover different material.
Students should complete all assignments on time. The teaching assistant will mark down unexcused late assignments.
Likewise, students should plan on being at the mid-semester quiz and the final examination. Students who have conflicts should discuss them with Prof. de Neufville at the beginning of the semester to see what arrangements might be made. No one should expect special treatment or the extra effort to write equivalent examinations and give them at alternative times.
Prof. de Neufville will, of course, accept reasonable excuses (family emergencies, sickness) when presented near the event.
To avoid any potential confusion that might result from different expectations in other courses or establishments, please note the standards that apply in this subject.