Preferences and Decisions

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Decision making is an omnipresent, most crucial activity of the human being, and also of virtually all artificial broadly perceived intelligent systems that try to mimic human behavior, reasoning and choice processes. It is quite obvious that such a relevance of decision making had triggered vast research effort on its very essence, and attempts to develop tools and techniques which would make it possible to somehow mimic human decision making related acts, even to automate decision making processes that had been so far reserved for the human beings. The roots of those attempts at a scientific analysis can be traced to the ancient times but - clearly - they have gained momentum in the recent 50 or 100 years following a general boom in science. Depending on the field of science, decision making can be viewed in different ways. The most general view can be that decision making boils down to some cognitive, mental process(es) that lead to the selection of an option or a course of action among several alternatives. Then, looking in a deeper way, from a psychological perspective this process proceeds in the context of a set of needs, preferences, rational choice of an individual, a group of individuals, or even an organization. From a cognitive perspective, the decision making process proceeds in the context of various interactions with the environment.