Robust Decision Making

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Robust decision making (RDM) is an analytic framework that helps identify potential robust strategies, characterize the vulnerabilities of such strategies, and evaluate trade-offs among them. RDM is being used at RAND to help decisionmakers in areas such as water resources planning, energy, and coastal resilience—areas often plagued with “deep uncertainty,” in which stakeholders do not know or agree on the relationships among actions, consequences, and probabilities.

  • An aerial view of Central Texas homes under water at Graveyard Point neighborhood community in the flood plain of Lake Travis, photo by RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images

    Content

    Climate Research at RAND

    May 17, 2019

    RAND researchers have a long history of shedding light on the social and economic implications of a changing climate, its impacts on the natural environment, and the challenges it poses to communities, regions, and our national security.

  • Flooding in Pittsburgh,  photo by Artem S/Getty Images

    Research Brief

    Green Infrastructure Can Help Manage Rainfall in an Urban Watershed

    Oct 29, 2020

    Urbanization, inadequate investment in aging infrastructure, and more-frequent heavy rainfall events due to climate change have led to sewer overflows, flooding, and reduced water quality in U.S. cities. The challenges of increasing volumes of stormwater can be addressed by a mix of solutions.

Explore Robust Decision Making

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    Journal Article

    Improving Scenario Discovery Using Orthogonal Rotations

    Scenario discovery offers a new means to characterize and communicate the information in computer simulation models under conditions of deep uncertainty.

    Sep 26, 2013

  • Electric power plant

    Report

    Modeling Industry Transformation and the Political Sustainability of Emission Control Policies

    Limiting climate change will require transformation of energy and other systems. A new model that uses Robust Decision Making tools enables decisionmakers to compare the long-term sustainability of alternative carbon emission reduction policies.

    Sep 6, 2013

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    Journal Article

    Using Scenario Elicitation Methodology to Map Possible Future Challenges to Mitigation and Adaptation

    A new set of scenarios, referred to as Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs), examines challenges to mitigation and challenges to adaptation. Developing SSPs with a "backwards" approach could help inform the development of SSPs to ensure the storylines focus on the driving forces most relevant to distinguishing between the SSPs.

    Sep 1, 2013

  • Vietnamese woman paddling a boat

    Project

    Ensuring Robust Flood Risk Management in Vietnam

    Ho Chi Minh City faces significant and growing flood risk. Recent risk reduction efforts may not work if climate and socio-economic conditions diverge from earlier projections. Robust decision making can help Vietnam's largest city develop integrated flood risk management strategies despite this uncertainty.

    Aug 16, 2013

  • Hurricane Katrina satellite photo

    Journal Article

    Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment Model Helps Estimate Surge-Based Flood Risk

    The Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment model (CLARA) facilitates comparisons of current and future flood risk under a variety of protection system configurations in a wide range of environmental, operational, and economic uncertainties.

    Aug 1, 2013

  • mojave desert in california

    Report

    Using RDM Strategies for the California Water Plan Update

    This report describes a proof-of-concept analysis using Robust Decision Making to evaluate water resource management response packages for California's Central Valley under future uncertainty for the California Water Plan Update 2013.

    Jun 13, 2013

  • Sunrise over Louisiana wetlands

    Solution

    Helping Coastal Communities Plan for Climate Change

    The vulnerability of coastal residents to loss of life and property damage from storm-surge flooding has already proven extensive in recent years. RAND has helped policymakers determine what mix of hurricane risk reduction and coastal restoration projects can reduce hurricane damage risk and rebuild coastal land, recognizing budget constraints.

    Jun 10, 2013

  • Vietnamese woman paddling a boat

    Journal Article

    Flood Risk Management in Ho Chi Minh City

    Ho Chi Minh City faces significant and growing flood risk. Recent risk reduction efforts may not work if climate and socio-economic conditions diverge from earlier projections. Robust decisionmaking can help Vietnam's capital develop integrated flood risk management strategies despite this uncertainty.

    May 1, 2013

  • houses destroyed by Hurricane Sandy

    Commentary

    Planning for Superstorms, Wildfires, and Deep Uncertainty

    The path to climate change preparedness should start at the intersection of resilience and robustness — that is, building resilient communities with the individuals and organizations within those communities making robust decisions, ones designed to work well over a wide range of ever-changing conditions.

    Apr 18, 2013

  • parched desert landscape

    Journal Article

    New Methods to Implement Multi-Attribute RDM

    Many objective robust decision making (MORDM) combines concepts and methods from many objective evolutionary optimization and robust decision making (RDM), along with extensive use of interactive visual analytics, to facilitate the management of complex environmental systems.

    Apr 1, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Creating Constituencies for Long-Term, Radical Change

    This essay will argue that long-term emissions reduction goals currently proposed before Congress at best only highlight the magnitude of the climate change challenge, without contributing much to a solution.

    Apr 1, 2013

  • white empty room with open door

    Journal Article

    Exploring Scenarios that Illuminate Vulnerabilities and Robust Responses

    Scenarios can be hard to employ effectively, particularly in the context of contentious public policy debates with diverse stakeholders. Building on work in robust decision making and themes from the decision support literature, the authors propose a new concept that envisions scenarios as illuminating the vulnerabilities of proposed policies.

    Apr 1, 2013

  • train track switch

    Research Brief

    Robust Decision Making Aids Planning Under Deep Uncertainty

    Quantitative analysis is often indispensable to sound planning, but with deep uncertainty, predictions can lead decisionmakers astray. Robust Decision Making supports good decisions without predictions by testing plans against many futures.

    Feb 28, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Louisiana's 2012 Coastal Master Plan: Overview of a Science-Based and Publicly Informed Decision-Making Process

    Louisiana's 2012 Coastal Master Plan is a long-term plan with clear economic, social, and environmental benefits, such as decreasing potential damages from storm surge by $5.3 billion to $18 billion.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • weighing scale with money and earth

    Journal Article

    Improving the Use of Climate Model Information in Decision Making

    The severe underutilization of climate models as tools for supporting decision making is slowing progress in developing informed adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change. Addressing the root causes of this problem will require expanding the conception of climate models as scenario generators.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Transport Surveys: Considerations for Decision Makers and Decision Making

    This book provides an international perspective on improving information to support transportation decision making.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Planning Tool Supports Effort to Envision the Future of Coastal Louisiana

    A computer-based decision-support tool, called the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Planning Tool, provided technical analysis that supported the development of Louisiana's 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast through CPRA and community-based deliberations.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Navajo Bridge over Colorado River

    Blog

    New Colorado River Basin Study Examines Tremendous Challenges of the Coming 50 Years

    Growing water needs combined with uncertain but possibly deteriorating future hydrologic conditions could stress the Colorado River system in the coming 50 years. Options that could be effective in improving it include urban conservation, agricultural conservation, and groundwater desalination.

    Dec 18, 2012

  • globe and sun

    Journal Article

    Shared Socio-economic Pathways Offer New Approach for Climate Change Analysis

    Developing an integrated perspective on mitigation, adaptation and residual climate impacts could be aided by identifying a set of global narratives and socio-economic pathways offering scalability to different regional contexts.

    Oct 1, 2012

  • Flooded I-10/I-610/West End Blvd interchange and surrounding area of northwest New Orleans and Metairie, Louisiana

    Project

    Reducing New Orleans Storm-Surge Flood Risk in an Uncertain Future

    Preparing for natural disasters is a long, multi-faceted process that requires years of planning, coordination, and direct action. RAND has developed a new approach for assessing hurricane flood risk in New Orleans under uncertainty and evaluating city-wide approaches for reducing this risk.

    Sep 10, 2012