J. Neil Bearden
Associate Professor of Decision Sciences
The authors describe a search problem in which a decision maker (DM) must select among sequentially encountered options. Each option is described by multiple attributes, and the value of an option is given by a separable function of its attribute values. However, the attribute values are not known with certainty, and can only be ascertained in a predefined order, at some fixed cost. During the search the DM can choose to select an option, purchase information about an attribute value, reject (permanently) the current option and continue the search, or terminate the search and accept a status quo outcome.The authors introduce a threshold policy for this search process, and prove the optimality of this policy for separable value functions. The authors then furnish a dynamic programming procedure for prescribing an optimal policy for this problem.Finally, the authors derive analytic solutions to some special cases of the problem, and present a case study that demonstrates a possible use of the proposed approach.