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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


A Handbook of Sustainable Development Planning: Studies in Modelling and Decision Support by M. A. Quaddus, M. A. B. Siddique, Muhammed Abu B. Siddique (Edward Elgar Publishing) comprehensively examines the current status and future directions of model-based systems in decision support and their application to sustainable development planning. It begins with a comprehensive review of model-based applications in sustainable development planning, paying particular attention to environmental disaster, ecosystem management, energy, infrastructure development, and agricultural systems, amongst other contemporary issues. Conceptual and policy oriented papers then debate the future directions of model-based sustainable development planning. Taking account of the fact that sustainable development planning is multidimensional by nature, the contributors concede that a single exemplary model does not exist. The aims of the stakeholders, along with preferences and priorities surrounding the planned objectives determine the ways and means of sustainable development planning. A number of tools - from simple intuition based approaches to sophisticated mathematical modeling - are therefore utilized within the Handbook. An important feature of the work is the emphasis on Decision Support Systems (DSS) and Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS) approaches - it is argued that these are natural and appropriate for sustainable development planning. Given the rise in prominence of sustainable development planning in recent years, this Handbook will be invaluable to a wide-ranging audience including NGOs, planners, consultants, policymakers, and academics.

Excerpt: By the time this book went to press the Johannesburg world summit on sustainable development had ended. The main objective of this summit was to reflect on Agenda 21 of the Rio summit ten years ago. The theme of the Johannesburg summit was `people, planet, prosperity' and thus focused on social development, poverty eradication and environmental conservation. While sustainable development has been defined in many different ways, these three major concerns capture the essence of it. On the other hand, sustainable development planning deals with developing plans and supporting decision-making activities to achieve social development, poverty eradication and environmental conservation.

The role of decision-making in sustainable development is also highlighted in Agenda 21. This document lists 38 issues of sustainable development (http:// www.un.org/esa/sustdev/issueslist.htm – accessed on 18 November 2002), two of which relate to decision-making. These are `Integrated decision-making' and `Information for decision-making and participation'. It is necessary to integrate issues of `environment and development at the centre of economic and political decision-making'. However, at the core of the decision-making process is the need for quality information. Information must be collected and disseminated appropriately. One of the most important sources of information is the outcome of the application of model-based decision support systems in sustainable development planning. Modelling brings objectivity to any planning process and supports the corresponding decision-making activities by providing specific and appropriate information.

Thus the primary aim of this book is to disseminate the roles and applications of model-based decision support systems (DSS) in sustainable development planning. Invitations to contribute to this book were sent via special-interest electronic list servers around the globe. Several renowned authors were also specially invited to contribute. Each prospective contributor was initially asked to prepare a two- or three-page proposal on his/her contribution. These proposals were reviewed by the editors and suggestions were made to prepare the full papers. The submitted papers were then reviewed by independent reviewers and the final acceptance/rejection decisions were made by the editors based on the revised papers submitted by the contributors.

The book contains three parts. Part I, Modelling for sustainable development, has four chapters. It deals with the concepts of modelling sustainability from planning and development perspectives and reviews the applications of modelling and decision support in sustainable development planning based on published literature. Part II of the book, Case studies, consists of ten chapters and analyses the applications of various models based on decision support framework for sustainable development planning in the following areas: environmental management, mining, energy management, land and water management, agriculture, aquaculture and infrastructure. Part III of the book, Future directions, proposes future directions for modelling and decision support in the light of the review in Chapter 1 and various other chapters in this book.


Civil and Environmental Systems Engineering, Second Edition by Charles S. Revelle, Earl Whitlatch, Jeff Wright (Prentice Hall) Broad and comprehensive in coverage -- and student-friendly in approach -- this text focuses on the most modern skills available for the design, operation and evaluation of civil and environmental engineering systems -- optimization/systems modeling and engineering economics. Exceptionally practical, it features several chapters that present new techniques and methodologies in the context of real-life problem situations. Describes how and why linear programming works. Also, provides a solid treatment of multiple objective programming. For practicing Civil and Environmental Engineers.

The treatment of linear programming and other forms of optimization is prag­matic. We prove no theorems but do, however, provide a description of how and why linear programming works. If we did not, we would be handing the student a "black box" and telling the student to "believe." Instead of theory, we offer application in large quantities to motivate the student to learn the methodologies. We first offer problems that are not terribly difficult to formulate, and then problems that demand greater skill to put in solvable forms. Our thrust is to build up skills in an orderly fashion as there are greater and lesser challenges in formulation and greater and lesser challenges in solution method. Later chapters are, of course, the most de­manding. These later chapters are a unique feature of this text. Titled "Lessons in Context" followed by the name of an application field, these chapters offer new techniques within the framework of a problem setting, a problem setting that de­mands the new methodologies that are then introduced. Our experience suggests that the "need" for the methodologies helps to motivate students to learn them.

A second focus of this book, in addition to linear programming and associated tools of optimization, is the closely allied field of engineering economics. At first glance, our treatment of engineering economics would appear to be guided by the need to cover all topics necessary to prepare undergraduate engineers for the pro­fessional engineers' examination on this important topic. These topics include the time value of money, cash flow analysis, and selection of economic alternatives. Cost analysis and economic analysis over time are important considerations in the devel­opment of models that help identify optimal management decisions. This is because virtually all engineering management decisions in the public sector involve signifi­cant, and often enormous, cost considerations over potentially very long periods of time. Hence, our presentation of engineering economics is designed to provide stu­dents a solid foundation upon which to compute important model parameters. In-deed, the modeling context provided for this important topic gives added relevance to this all too often supposititious subject.

These two related topics, optimization/systems analysis and engineering eco­nomics, are the core of this book. When the student has completed a course in these topics using this text, or has read this book independently, as it is quite possible to do, he or she will have learned the most modern skills available for the design, oper­ation, and evaluation of civil and environmental systems.

The first 40% of the book has been extensively reorganized as well as supplement­ed with new materials in response to requests from faculty who use the text in their courses in civil and environmental systems engineering. Faculty requested a more paced start for the text, a start in which students were not asked to formulate opti­mization models in the first chapter. Instead, they preferred that more of the philos­ophy and the ideas behind model building be presented at the outset. We have done precisely this. The first chapter is now devoted to a combination of historical devel­opment of systems analysis and the steps a model builder follows in structuring an optimization model. The formulated linear programming examples that appeared in Chapter 1 in the first edition are now distributed later in the text. Verbal descrip­tions of settings where models can be employed are now offered in Chapter 1, and the student is challenged to identify, in the context of these settings, not only con­straints and appropriate decision variables but also needed parameters and problem objectives. Nine new end-of-chapter exercises expand the number of verbally de-scribed settings and offer the student further opportunity to develop formulation skills without the necessity of employing mathematics.

The new Chapter 2 now consists of the general form of the linear programming problem and nine example or stylized problems that are described in detail as well as solved to help introduce the student to the concept of optimization modeling. Of these example problems, four are entirely new to the text, expanding the range of problem settings that the student now encounters. These new problems include: 

  1. an air pollution linear programming problem in which cost is minimized subject to air quality constraints,

  2. a land and species preservation integer programming problem in which the least number of parcels are chosen to preserve a set of endangered species,

  3. a nonlinear programming problem in cost-efficient building design, and

  4. a nonlinear optimization problem that seeks the design of a maximum volume tent.

Also, the shared recycling problem has been moved to later in the text, as faculty users requested, and the bidding problem, from a later chapter, is now included here to pro-vide another example of a zero-one programming problem. End-of-chapter exercises for Chapter 2 include exercises that appeared at the end of old Chapter 1.

Chapter 3 presents the graphical solution of the simplex plus more complex problems and Chapter 4 goes on to the mathematics of the simplex rules. Both chap­ters were generally applauded in the previous edition and so have not been altered extensively, a statement that can be made, as well, about multiple-objective pro­gramming presented now in Chapter 5.

Significant organizational and presentational changes characterize Chapters 6 and 7, the chapters on network flow and integer programming. In the previous edi­tion, these two topics were interwoven to emphasize the very interesting conceptual

relations between these two subjects. The organization was recognized by faculty as well-intended but eclectic. And the organization of the first edition seems to have made the subject of network flows less accessible to the average student. We have chosen in this edition to present network flows in its own chapter, Chapter 6, and to draw together in one chapter all of the major network flow concepts for ease of ac­cess. This organization was field tested in 2002 and offers definite advantages. Stu-dents penetrated this material relatively easily—as compared to the topics of integer programming models and the technique of branch and bound. A new set of end-of-chapter exercises are included in Chapter 6 with more civil systems engi­neering examples. These problems are easier than the integer programming exercises in the old Chapter 5, but still sufficiently challenging to sort out the best students from the pack. The topics of Chapter 6 are the shortest path problem, trans-shipment problems, transportation problems, the traveling salesman problem, and maximum flow.

The topics of integer programming, branch and bound, and applications of in­teger programming are now ensconced in their own chapter, Chapter 7, without the network flow models. While these IP topics are certainly important subjects in many civil and environmental systems courses, we have, by choice opted to place these topics in their own chapter, allowing the instructor the freedom to easily choose these topics or not. And we still make it possible to study independently the classical and widely applicable models of network flows. This organizational and perspective change is an improvement that many instructors will welcome.

In addition to the changes to the optimization chapters that are described above, a number of new end-of chapter exercises have been added to enhance the already well-received engineering economics chapters and to heighten the students' experience in this core area.

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