T.L. Saaty Decision Making for Leaders Hackathon

Thomas L. Saaty

A Distinguished University Professor at Pitt, the late Dr. Saaty (1926-2017) was the inventor of the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) decision-making framework and the Analytic Network Process (ANP), earning him multiple international awards. Both processes are still in use today for large-scale, multi-criteria decision analysis. Dr. Saaty also wrote more than 35 books and 350 papers on mathematics and decision-making and was passionate about conflict resolution and global peace.

Creative Decisions Foundation

Established in 1996 by Thomas L. Saaty and his wife Rozann Whitaker Saaty, the Foundation promotes the cause of rational decision making. Mrs. Saaty now serves as president and is supported by a board that includes two of the Saaty sons along with educators from around the world. The Foundation, among other endeavors, sponsors training workshops and competitions like the Hackathon to increase awareness of how to make decisions using the AHP/ANP family of methods.


T.L. Saaty Decision Making Hackathon

Challenge Yourself and Learn How to Solve Complex Business Problems

As a Pitt graduate or undergraduate student, do you want to see how you can tackle the toughest decisions with confidence? And see how you can change the way we measure things?

Join the T.L. Saaty Decision Making for Leaders Hackathon, sponsored by Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, to learn how to solve complex practical business problems using both hard data and your personal perspective and experiences. Experience new ways to provide custom solutions that reflect the way a company operates and sees the world.

The Hackathon, which honors the legacy of Thomas L. Saaty, who created the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and Analytic Network Process (ANP), best known for complex decision-making. This event brings together highly regarded representatives of academia, businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations. Pitt students will learn decision-making techniques that will help you to stand out by teaching you how to avoid cookie-cutter solutions and easily explain your solution processes.

In 2022, the inaugural competition featured 15 teams composed of 2-3 Pitt students. The winning team “HR & Workforce” included Shri Krishna Kumar (MENGR ’22) and Enkhjarga Ganbaatar (MBA’ 22).


Second Annual Hackathon:
March 24-26, 2023, Mervis Hall

Register: Participate in the Hackathon to learn how to design decision making models and set them up using Python and then compete on a team to define and solve a real-world business problem.

The registration deadline is March 22, 2023.

Prizes and Certifications: The winning team of 2-3 students will receive a $2,000 award with $700 for second place and $300 for third. All participants will receive the Analytic Hierarchy Decision Making Using Python Entry Level Certification along with a Pitt Decision Making for Leaders certification.

Kate's Real FoodBusiness Partner: This year’s real-world business issue will be presented by employees of Kate’s Real Food, a fast-growing organic snack company based in Bedford, Pennsylvania. The company’s growth in sales has resulted in the establishment of its own production company and a 20,000-square-foot production facility that has since doubled in size. Their USDA-certified organic snacks are in 4,000+ retail locations across the country, including Whole Foods, REI, H-E-B, Amazon.com, and Pitt’s main campus. Kate’s has partnered with Delta Airlines to distribute their bars as in-flight snacks. Kate’s has also donated bars to not-for-profit organizations and delivered thousands to Ukraine several months ago.

Steering Committee: 

Rozann Saaty
Elena Rokou
Laura Oknefski
Michael Taljan
Carole Reinert 


Teams: This competition is for teams of 2-3 Pitt  students. If you did not sign up as a team member, you can still register, and we will help you join a team by the competition day. Students do not need any prior knowledge of the AHP/ANP methods.

First Day: In the morning, students will receive intensive training in AHP and ANP methods, while the afternoon will be split between hands-on practice with the decision-making software tools to be used the next day. Students will also meet the company representative(s) and hear about their strategic objectives and business challenges. The teams will then discuss the decision problems of the company and decide on their approach.

Second Day: After training in the morning, teams will assemble and work on structuring their ideas. They will define the decision-making problem they will solve, describe the framework, identify the decision factors, and model the problem using the appropriate decision-making methods and software tools. In the afternoon, the teams will finalize their case and prepare their presentation for the final day.

Final Day: All teams will have 15 minutes to present their case analysis and recommendations. Following each presentation, the judges will conduct a question and answer (Q&A) session for a maximum of 10 minutes and may then offer feedback. Final Judging: the top 3-5 teams will compete in the final round that afternoon with 15 minutes to present, followed by a 10-minute Q&A with the judges. The final presentations are open to public viewing and non-finalist teams are encouraged to watch and see which three teams receive prizes in the awards ceremony.

About the Judging and Panel of Judges

Presentations will be evaluated based on each team’s ability to analyze the information presented by the business partner, to provide a clear definition of the problem to be solved, to effectively use the decision-making methods, and to be creative with their proposed solutions. The creativity shown by the proposed alternatives and the feasibility of the team’s solution will be of significant importance. Paramount, of course, is how effectively the teams communicate the recommended course of action.

The judges will comprise professionals with wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences related to the business partner’s issues or the AHP/ANP decision-making methods. Judges will include members from the international AHP/ANP community of academics, practitioners, and professionals/executives working with the business partner. The panel of judges for the preliminary and final rounds will differ.


Katz provides networking and career guidance early in the MBA process. The impressive number of events and case competition help me represent the school and keep me involved. I credit the unparalleled scholastic environment to an immensely knowledgeable faculty and camaraderie generated by the career office.

Matthew Linsburg

MBA '18

Katz is unique because of its genuine dedication to students. Career Management’s no-nonsense approach carefully creates a customized academic and career roadmap to ensure each student receives the necessary skills to secure a successful internship and job placement.

Tony Wang

MBA '19