Criticism

I’m a firm believer in continuous improvement, and improvement requires constructive criticism. This page contains criticism that I have received or noted regarding the DBE book, with my responses. If you have criticism not already on the list, feel free to contact me and I’ll consider adding it to this page.


criticism: In order to read and comprehend a trace, it’s necessary to essentially acquire a new language due to the heavy use of acronyms and abbreviations. This is too much work.

response: Each trace in the DBE book compresses a great deal of information into a compact space. Less use of acronyms and abbreviations would have greatly expanded the size of the book.


criticism: The DBE book labels many important topics as out of scope. This makes the book seem incomplete.

response: If I had tried to thoroughly explore and document everything the DBE book marks as out of scope, the book would not have been completed in my lifetime. I decided that the best strategy is to ‘test the water’ by publishing a modest book presenting the key DBE ideas. If the DBE book generates sufficient interest, an expanded second edition or new volume on DBE can be published.


criticism: Although the DBE book is ostensibly about decision basis evaluation, about 25% of the book is devoted to decision repair.

response #1: Decision basis evaluation and decision repair fit together like hand and glove: the ability to perform decision repair justifies the resources dedicated to decision basis evaluation. So, I think that understanding decision repair contributes to the understanding of decision basis evaluation.

response #2: Any public safety enhancement provided by decision basis evaluation will mostly likely come through its association with decision repair. My primary interest in decision basis evaluation lies in its potential to enhance public safety, so including a chapter on decision repair seemed appropriate.


criticism: Conventional decision theories have successfully modeled recursive decision problems for many years; it is notable that the DBE book fails to address such problems.

response: My original plan was to include a recursive decision problem in the DBE book. I performed the system and software engineering to support this plan. Unfortunately, the resulting book would have been too large and complex to produce in a reasonable time frame. This material ended up on the cutting room floor for the current DBE book, but it may still see the light of day down the road.


criticism: The book describes a state external to the DM as what the DM would perceive if the DM’s sensor is accurate, and calls this approach counterfactual. However, in the scenario where the DM’s sensor is actually accurate, this approach is factual rather than counterfactual.

response: To be more precise, perhaps I should call this the counterfactual conditional approach to describing states external to the DM. According to Wikipedia, I am employing the counterfactual conditional in the present indicative mood.


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