Decision Tree Software

Many uses

Decision tree software is used in many areas, computing, medicine and business. In the computing world, the decision tree is a very popular algorithm for data mining and machine learning. In medicine, clinical decision support systems are used for such things as triage, diagnosis, and analysis of patient data.

The software referenced here is that used in business as a predictive model, a way to make decisions that considers many possible options, the probability of those options and the potential financial value of each.

Decision tree software, a subset of decision support software, varies in price from free to thousands of dollars.

The free software is often quite basic with limited functionality, but of course depending on what you want it for, some of these may be perfectly adequate.

Some programs are actually add-ins for Excel, enhancing the functionality of Excel and allowing you to generate more formal decision trees. And some carry a whole host of extra features that are great for those who love to play with data.


The pros and cons

Similar to other decision making software, these programs allow you to process a lot of information very quickly. The method by which you process, and the results of your processing, can be demonstrated graphically in a variety of ways, depending on your outcome.

Sometimes this kind of presentation may be expected by your audience, so using it may actually be matching their expectations. And even for those unfamiliar with such representations, once they are explained, decision tree analysis is usually very easy.

Visual communication can be 6 times more effective than communication with words only.

The downside, of course, is that the software is only as good as the user. The program does not make the decision! The program is simply following your instructions, so learn how to give good instructions.

Some programs take time to learn and it may be time consuming to create the graphics. It may be more convenient than trying to draw things by hand.

All the programs are rational decision making tools.


Occam's decision tree software

If you know how to draw decision trees, this program is small and very easy to use. It allows you to quickly add branches, optimize sub nodes and so on. There are a range of free templates that allow you to tie it into some of the functions of Microsoft Excel.

The free trial can be used indefinitely (but no saving of work).


Lumenaut

Another add-in for Excel which provides a range of tools (Monte Carlo simulation software and Decision Tree analysis software) allowing you to build decision tree models from within Excel. It also allows for different types of sensitivity analysis and will obviously allow you to represent the information in a variety of visually appealing ways.

There is a free trial of this decision tree software, with academic and student customers being eligible for a discount licence.


Vanguard Studio

This is a standalone program and is described as combining features of artificial intelligence, math applications and spreadsheets. The decision tree software aspect has a nice wizard which takes you step-by-step through creating the whole decision tree.

It also offers Monte Carlo simulation, another wizard for forecasting, statistical decision tree analysis and other methods. These are accessible from the various menu options, and there are also several examples of each included. This program can be used as a server based system but requires more software for this.

SmartDraw

Makers of decision support software, these programs are popular for business graphics and allows you to quickly and easily draw various diagrams, of which a decision tree is obviously one form.

There is a free trial and a well made video demo of what's possible with their decision support system software.


Try them out

Obviously this is only a small sampling of the decision tree software available. Before you purchase, it makes sense to know specifically what kind of functionality you want in your software. What exactly do you want it to do?

Because very often, this will determine the price you pay, as with most software. The more functionality you want, the more expensive it's going to be.

And, of course, there are lots of free trials. While these are great marketing tools, they also give you the opportunity to find out exactly what's in the box.


The vital aspect

And remember, the most important aspect of your software is you, the user. Remember that you are still making the decision, and the software is a tool to help you to do that. So if you're going to be making the decision anyway, you better know how to make a good decision...

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