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Categories in emergency decision-making: prototype-based classification

Mei Cai (School of Management Science and Engineering, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China)
Guo Wei (Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, North Carolina, USA)
Jie Cao (Xuzhou University of Technology, People’s Republic of China, Xuzhou, China)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 25 June 2019

Issue publication date: 23 January 2020




This paper aims to demonstrate how to make emergency decision when decision makers face a complex and turbulent environment that needs quite different decision-making processes from conventional ones. Traditional decision techniques cannot meet the demands of today’s social stability and security.


The main work is to develop an instance-driven classifier for the emergency categories based upon three fuzzy measures: features for an instance, solution for the instance and effect evaluation of the outcome. First, the information collected from the past emergency events is encodes into a prototype model. Second, a three-dimensional space that describes the locations and mutual distance relationships of the emergency events in different emergency prototypes is formulated. Third, for any new emergency event to be classified, the nearest emergency prototype is identified in the three-dimensional space and is classified into that category.


An instance-driven classifier based on prototype theory helps decision makers to describe emergency concept more clearly. The maximizing deviation model is constructed to determine the optimal relative weights of features according to the characteristics of the new instance, such that every customized feature space maximizes the influence of features shared by members of the category. Comparisons and discusses of the proposed method with other existing methods are given.

Practical implications

To reduce the affection to economic development, more and more countries have recognized the importance of emergency response solutions as an indispensable activity. In a new emergency instance, it is very challengeable for a decision maker to form a rational and feasible humanitarian aids scheme under the time pressure. After selecting a most suitable prototype, decision makers can learn most relevant experience and lessons in the emergency profile database and generate plan for the new instance. The proposed approach is to effectively make full use of inhomogeneous information in different types of resources and optimize resource allocation.


The combination of instances can reflect different aspects of a prototype. This feature solves the problem of insufficient learning data, which is a significant characteristic of emergency decision-making. It can be seen as a customized classification mechanism, while the previous classifiers always assume key features of a category.



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (71871121, 71401078, 71503134), National Social Science Foundation of China (16ZDA054), Jiangsu Provincial 333 Project (BRA2017396), Six Major Talents Peak Project of Jiangsu Province (XYDXXJS-CXTD-005), Top-notch Academic Programs Project of Jiangsu High Education Institutions, and HRSA, US Department of Health and Human Services (No. H49MC0068).


Cai, M., Wei, G. and Cao, J. (2020), "Categories in emergency decision-making: prototype-based classification", Kybernetes, Vol. 49 No. 2, pp. 526-553.



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