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MiR@W: Soft Elicitation

11 March 2019. 10.30 to 17.00

Organisers: Simon French (Statistics), Leroy White (Business School)

By soft elicitation we mean what we do when we ask problem owners for the general knowledge, perceptions, uncertainties and values that a model needs to embody before it is populated with numbers and used in a quantitative analysis. We use soft elicitation to contrast with the hard elicitation of numbers that go into models, though we recognise that the distinction is a vague rather than a crisp dichotomy.

Many disciplines have thought about soft elicitation, though perhaps not as much as might be expected. Various terminologies have evolved, including:

  • Mathematicians often refer simply to model building
  • Decision analysis and more generally Operational Research refer to Soft OR and Problem Structuring methods.
  • Risk Analysis use the terms: Optioneering and Hazard Analysis.
  • Statistics uses Exploratory Data Analysis, Multivariate Statistics and, nowadays, Data Mining and Machine Learning.
  • Knowledge Management studies refer to knowledge elicitation and, perhaps, sense-making, creativity and innovation.
  • Information Systems often use the term Soft Systems.
  • Management Studies has a whole host of model structures that can catalyse discussions, such as PESTEL, 7 S's and Porter's 5 Forces.

The seminar is aimed at academics and consultants who build quantitative models to solve real problems, particularly risk and decision problems. We intend to draw together perspectives from across the disciplines and share insights into the processes that are used to elicit the form and structure of models. The format of the seminar will include talks and a panel led discussion.

Further details, a list of speakers and an outline timeable will be available in due course.

Please note that registration, though free, will be required for the meeting to enable us to plan catering.