Foundations of Decision Analysis

with Prof. Ron Howard of Stanford University

A Rare Opportunity to Study with Professor Howard, a Founder of Decision Analysis

The SDG Decision Education Center is pleased to offer an in-depth, one-week course of study with Professor Ron Howard of Stanford University, one of the founders of decision analysis (DA). Enrollment is now open for practicing professionals, senior analysts, and decision makers who want to be part of this unique experience.


Click the "Enroll" button to pay online through PayPal (no PayPal account required). If you prefer to have us invoice your company, please contact the Registrar directly.

  • Overview
  • Instructor
  • A Message from Ron
  • Textbook

Dr. Howard coined the term decision analysis in 1964 to refer to a new discipline that addressed decision-making in a formal, quantitative manner. Now, more than 50 years later, the field is securely embedded in public and private enterprises that use its principles to reach clarity when decision making is clouded by uncertainty, complexity, dynamics, or many parties with conflicting opinions.

The course combines Dr. Howard’s renowned Socratic method of instruction with experiential learning, group work, and individual study. Course material is drawn from his Stanford graduate-level courses. To amplify the learning experience, each day DA professionals assist participants in formulating and solving illustrative and practical decision problems. The combination of lectures, exercises, and probing classroom discussions will leave you with new and unexpected insights into the most fundamental aspects of decision making. Topics include:
  • Characterizing decisions by designing clear and powerful distinctions
  • Understanding the rules of thought that should guide action-and why we routinely violate them
  • Evaluate alternatives with complex, uncertain, and far-reaching consequences
  • Creating compelling arguments for action.

Dr. Howard also discusses the application of these fundamentals when answering questions such as:
  • What is the best strategy in a bidding situation? How does it change with auction type? How might I both win and lose?
  • How should a risk-sharing agreement be structured-or a joint investment or partnership-so that I optimize my share?
  • How can I make decisions that might put my life or the lives of others at risk, in a rigorous and defensible way?



Professor Ron Howard
Dr. Howard has been at Stanford since 1965. His books on DA, probabilistic modeling, dynamic programming, and Markov processes serve as major references for courses and research in these fields. His experience as a practitioner ranges over numerous fields of application, including projects on investment planning, research strategy, hurricane seeding, and nuclear waste isolation. Dr. Howard is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He was awarded the Operations Research Society of America’s Frank P. Ramsey Medal in 1986 and the first INFORMS Teaching of Operations Research/Management Science Practice award in 1998. In 2014, the Society of Decision Professionals named the Raiffa-Howard Award for Organizational Decision Quality in honor of Prof. Ron Howard and Prof. Howard Raiffa of Harvard University, who together are widely considered co-founders of the discipline in 1964.

“Foundations of Decision Analysis is taught by the Socratic method—guided, but unfettered, by an instruction plan. Important concepts are introduced when they arise in the discourse and, therefore, at a peak of interest. The open format allows pursuing a topic to an appropriate satisfying conclusion rather than cutting off discussion summarily at the end of a class. Limited class size permits personal attention to individual concerns. I welcome inquiries into the limitations of our approach and comparisons with alternative decision-aiding procedures. Continual concern with actual decision problems of participants promotes demonstrating the relevance of course material at every step and provides concrete reinforcement of this sound approach to decision quality.”

- Prof. Ron Howard

Foundations of Decision Analysis
Participants will receive a copy of Dr. Howard’s book Foundations of Decision Analysis, written with coauthor Ali Abbas.