You are here

By Keith W. Hipel (Department of Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo). As former President of the Academy of Science, Royal society of Canada, Prof. Hipel will be presenting the Miroslaw Romanowski Lecture.


Cutting Edge Lecture in Science: Negotiations over Groundwater Contamination

The Graph Model for Conflict Resolution (GMCR) is applied to the explosive dispute that arose over the discovery of a carcinogen in the aquifer supplying water to the town of Elmira, located in Southern Ontario, Canada, to demonstrate how one can realistically investigate conflict in order to obtain strategic insights for supporting informed decision making. This highly divisive groundwater contamination conflict is utilized to explain a rich range of inherent capabilities of GMCR, as well as worthwhile avenues for extensions, which make GMCR a truly powerful decision technology for addressing challenging conflict situations. Moreover, the crucial importance of scientifically taking into account both the societal and physical systems aspects of this complex problem is emphasized within an interdisciplinary system of systems thinking perspective. A flexible preference elicitation method, called option prioritization, is employed to obtain the relative preferences of each decision maker (DM) in the dispute over the states or scenarios which can occur, based upon naturally expressed preference statements regarding the options or courses of actions available to the DMs. Solution concepts, reflecting how a chess player thinks in terms of moves and counter-moves, are utilized to mirror the ways humans may behave under conflict, varying from short to long term thinking and from risk-averse to risk-seeking outlooks. After ascertaining the best outcome that a DM can achieve on his or her own in a conflict, coalition analysis is used to check if a DM can fare even better by cooperating with others. For the Elmira dispute, potential equilibria or compromise resolutions are predicted and the reasons for the decision of two of the disputants to form a coalition and bring about a dramatic resolution to the conflict are explained. The ability of GMCR to capture emotions, strength of preference, attitudes, misunderstandings (referred to as hypergames), and uncertain preferences (unknown, fuzzy, grey and probabilistic), greatly broadens its scope of applicability. Techniques for tracing how a conflict can evolve over time from a status quo state to a final specified outcome, as well as how to handle hierarchical structures, such as when a central government interacts with its provinces or states, further enforce the comprehensive nature of GMCR. In fact, an Artificial Intelligence algorithm is available to determine how DMs in a conflict must think in terms of preference in order to reach a desirable outcome in what is called the inverse engineering problem. Learning how DMs may think allows creativity in purposefully directing a dispute towards a win/win resolution. 


Vancouver Island University

March 4, 2019, 2:00pm - 3:15pm

Royal Arbitus Room


University of British Columbia

March 6, 2019, 2:00pm - 3:15pm

Auditorium Beaty Biodiversity Museum


McGill University

Click here for more information

March 14, 2019, 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Redpath Museum Auditorium, 859 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal


How to Conduct Original Research in Graduate Studies

Based on four decades in mentoring Canadian and international graduate students, Keith Hipel uses the valuable experience, knowledge and insights that he has garnered to explain how to execute meaningful and original research. Of utmost importance is to follow your heart’s desire in carrying your research as a personal challenge to help others and society.  In your domain of interest, find a problem for which a satisfactory solution does not yet exist. In an engineering thesis, often a methodology is created to tackle a tough practical problem such as designing a sustainable energy production system in which greenhouse gases are substantially reduced. Think like a detective when you carry out a literature review to ascertain where gaps exist in the literature and what types of attempts have been made in the past, if any, to bridge these gaps. Mainly keep track of what is of interest to you in a general sense and how it may be used in your research. Later, you can read the key papers in detail and upgrade your expertise in areas most closely tied to your research. You should not hesitate to discuss your ideas with others and seek guidance from your supervisors, experts and peers. Be sure to take every opportunity to attend lectures by experts at your university and international conference so you can obtain the latest information that is relevant with respect to your research. Use simple examples to develop, test and refine your research ideas and as the methodology you are developing matures, apply it to real world problems and make it as general as possible to it can be utilized in many application domains. Use a system of systems engineering framework to put your research into perspective and employ real data to demonstrate that your new methodology is a significant improvement over its competitors.  

University of Victoria

March 7, 2019, 11:30am - 12:20pm

Room C108, David strong Building at the University of Victoria


Concordia University

March 13, 2019, 10:30am - 12:00pm

Ev 2.260, 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. West, Montreal

Social Media Image: