It is important to recognize the different ways that uncertainty may arise.  Below is a list of the major classes of uncertainty that we encounter in our projects. Each of these require specialized tools to achieve the right behaviors.  We have experience with all of them.

Binary outcomes

  • Did you win the contract?
  • Did the customer return the product?

The Bell-shaped curve

  • The demand for a high volume product.
  • The price of a stock a year from now.

Heavy-tailed noise

  • Real-time electricity prices can spike to 20 times their average.
  • Commodity prices during periods of shortages.

Spikes/rare events

  • Major hurricanes and floods.
  • Failure of a large piece of machinery.

Bursts

  • Sudden demand for a product for a short period of time.
  • Burst of electricity prices due to a heat wave.

Shifts

  • A change in policy (e.g. Chinese policy toward rare earths) moves prices to a whole new plateau.
  • A country devalues its currency.