Definite – a DSS for a finite set of alternatives


DEFINITE (decisions on a finite set of alternatives – Dutch acronyme BOSDA) is a decision support software package that has been developed to improve the quality of environmental decision making. DEFINITE is, in fact, a whole tool kit of methods that can be used on a wide variety of problems. If you have a problem to solve, and you can identify alternative solutions, then DEFINITE can weigh up the alternatives for you and assess the most reasonable alternative. The program contains a number of graphical methods to support representation. To be able to deal with all types of information DEFINITE includes five different multicriteria methods, as well as Cost-Benefit and Cost-Effectiveness analysis. Related procedures such as weight assessment, standardization, discounting and a large variety of methods for sensitivity analysis are also available.

User interface

DEFINITE for WINDOWS is built upon the concepts and ideas of DEFINITE for MSDOS and uses the experiences from all users of this version. However, the software is rewritten from scratch to produce a genuine WINDOWS program. The development of a WINDOWS program also provides the opportunity to include methods using a graphics interface and to include new developments from the field of multicriteria decision making. In summary a program that looks good, is easy to use and includes the last theoretical developments.

Design is similar to MSOFFICE and is therefore familiar to most people. Menu’s have been implemented as buttons, drop down and case sensitive menu’s and are easy to use.
Under Windows it is easy to switch between programs. This means that a table from Excel can be imported into DEFINITE, a nice graph can be exported to PowerPoint for a presentation and all output can be moved to Word to prepare the evaluation report. Output can also be exported to other applications for additional analysis.

New tools for the toolkit

Graphical evaluation methods have been included. This relatively new class of methods depends totally on graphics for interaction with the user. These methods are often easier to communicate because ranking is performed visually instead of mathematically.

Value functions are the main addition to the tool box. Experiences in the last five years have shown that value functions are a valuable means of communication between the technical expert and the decision analyst. Value functions are well established in the literature and can be found in other decision support software as well. However, a unique feature of DEFINITE is a procedure that systematically leads the expert through a number of rounds of an interactive assessment session and uses an optimization approach to integrate all information provided by the experts to a full set of value functions.

Another unique feature of DEFINITE is the extensive number of tools for sensitivity analysis. This new version will allow for analysis of dependencies between criteria and will include these dependencies in sensitivity analysis.


DEFINITE and BOSDA are available from VU University. The prices of DEFINITE/BOSDA are:

Single user version: 1360 euro
Single user academic version: 750 euro
Network version (maximum of 5 users): 2260 euro
Network version for academic purpose: 1360 euro

Please contact Ron Janssen (tel ++31 (0) 641210137 or send an email to if you need more information or want to order DEFINITE or BOSDA.

Order Bosda or Definite

Demo version of DEFINITE

A demo version of DEFINITE can be downloaded. This version is a limited version of the program in the sense that the effects table is limited in size and the report generation module is not available. All other modules are the same as in the ‘normal’ versions. You can download the demo version of DEFINITE through the link below:
[Instructions: save the zip-file on disk, (rename,) unzip the zip-file and then run ‘setup.exe’]

DEFINITE demo version 3.1


By using the educational programme (or tutorial) Evaluation methods, developed by the Institute of Environmental Studies (IVM) of VU University Amsterdam together with the Faculty Public Administration and Public Policy (BSK) of the University Twente, you can learn the basic principles of multi-criteria analysis and cost-benefit analysis yourself.
The educational programme is meant as an introduction for the computer program DEFINITE, but can also be applied without that.

Below, you can find the link tot the DEFINITE tutorials. Right-click it and save it to your local computer. After unzipping the file you will see three executable files that allow access to three tutorials:

Evaluatiemethods 1 UK.exe: English version, part 1 (the basics)
Evaluatiemethoden 1 NL.exe: Dutch version, part 1 (the basics)
Evaluatiemethoden 2 NL.exe: Dutch version, part 2 (advanced features)

You can start the tutorial by clicking the icon hands. The hand at the top on the right side allows you to quit the tutorial.

DEFINITE tutorials