Clarity Truth Freedom Symposium

September 8, 2018 1:30pm - 4:30pm

Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University


The symposium will feature talks and discussions on Professor Howard’s intellectual achievements and legacy, by his colleagues and students over the past fifty years.

1:30 PM Session

  • Introduction to the Program -- Dale Nesbitt

  • Introducing Ron and How It All Started -- Jim Matheson

  • On the Shoulders of Giants -– Ronald A. Howard

  • Markov Processes -- Dick Smallwood & Jim Matheson

  • Practical Ethics -- Clint Korver

  • Coercion-Free Social Systems 

    • History and Origin of the Coercion-free Systems at Stanford -- Gerry Sauer & Dale Nesbitt

    • Current Perspectives and Future Directions -- Alejandro Martinez & Bob Stibolt

  • Closing of Session and Transition to DA Session -- Dale Nesbitt​

3:05 PM Break - 15 Minutes

3:20 PM Session - Focus on Decision Analysis (DA)

  • The Spread and Impact of DA -- Carl Spetzler

  • Strategic DA Today -- Xi Chen

  • DA in China -- Yong Tao

  • DA in the Middle East -- Ibrahim Almojel & Mazen Skaf

  • Portfolio Decisions & a New Versatile Probability Distribution -- Tom Keelin

  • Embedding DA with Portfolio Processes – David Matheson

  • Embedding DA in AI -- Eric Horvitz & Brad Powley

  • Spreading DA via Executive Education -- Trina Weller & Bruce Judd

  • Societal Decision Making -- Ali Abbas & Warner North

  • Medical: Patient Decision Support -- Jeff Belkora

  • DA for Youth -- Personal and Life Choices -- David Heckerman and Chris Spetzler


4:50 PM End


  • Markov processes was the main focus of Professor Howard’s early years at MIT, with books published in 1960 and 1971 that remain pivotal contributions.

  • Ethics for personal decisions and for those providing analysis as decision support became the subject of a Stanford course, beginning about 1970 and a book, coauthored with Clint Korver, published in 2008.

  • Freedom/coercion-free social systems involve the generalization of ethics from individual decisions to social systems. This extension has been a subject for a Stanford course over the past several decades and a forthcoming book, due out in 2019.

  • Professor Howard is best known as a founder of decision analysis. His 2016 textbook, Foundations of Decision Analysis, coauthored with Ali Abbas, makes his careful exposition of concepts and terminology more readily available to those who have not had the opportunity to work with him in his five decades of teaching and consulting.  His normative synthesis of decision theory with systems engineering has spread during the past fifty years among theorists and practitioners around the world.