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By G. K. Rand, R. W. Eglese

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A . H O W A R D (1971) Dynamic Probabilistic Systems: V o l . 1 Markov Models, Vol. 2 Semimarkov and Decision Processes. Wiley, N e w York. J. F. -S. L A U (1982) A four moments alternative to simulation for a class of stochastic management models. Mgmt Sei. 28, 7 4 9 - 7 5 8 . J. F. -S. L A U (1978) O n handling dependent random variables in risk analysis. / . Opl Res. Soc. 29, 1209-1217. S . KAPLAN and B. J. G A R R I C K (1981) O n the method of discrete probability distributions in risk and reliability calculations—applications to seismic risk assessments.

On the other hand the method has been used very successfully, which seems surprising given the criticisms made of it in the literature. Why it can be successful, despite its apparent bias, is taken up more fully later. For the moment it must be stressed that a highly questionable but almost universal paradigm, has been adopted in the literature. This is that the exact expected project duration is the value which must be assessed, before a meaningful target project completion duration can be set.

This makes it easy to update a network and greatly increases the chance of the network plan being used for dayto-day decision-making. Contrast this with the mainframe systems, which often had manuals several inches thick. Much of the lack of success in applying network methods can be laid at the door of inflexible and slow to respond computer systems. Indeed some users have even advised 1 one should avoid using a computer for planning. (Lester). Micro packages enable planning to be put where it belongs, in the hands of the planners.

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