I-X Process Panels - Technology Profile

Web homepage: http://i-x.info and http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/ix/

Developers: Austin Tate, Jessica Chen-Burger, Jeff Dalton, Stephen Potter, Jussi Satder and Gerhard Wickler

Organization: AIAI, The University of Edinburgh.

What's the Problem?

There is a need to coordinate people and systems to bring about more effective organisational behaviour; in the context of modern distributed, virtual organisations, when attempting any sort of collaborative synthesis task (such as design, planning or configuration), likely to require the capabilities of both human and computer agents, the need for such management becomes most evident.

Towards a Solution

The I-X suite of tools is intended to provide a well-founded approach to allow humans and computer systems to cooperate in the creation or modification of some product, be it a document, plan, design or physical entity. The principal interface to these tools, the I-X Process Panel, (I-P2) can be seen, at its simplest, as an intelligent 'to-do' list for its user; however, and especially when used in conjunction with other users' Panels, it can become a workflow, reporting and messaging 'catch all', allowing the coordination of activity, and hence facilitating more successful and efficient collaborations. 

A Panel can take ANY requirement to:

These requirements can be handled via:

I-X reports and messages can be generated and sent, and the receiving Panel will interpret these communications, where possible, so as to:

Since it is unrealistic to expect any one participant to have access to full knowledge of the state of the current process during a collaborative episode, I-X tools are expressly intended to operate in situations in which only partial knowledge from a particular perspective is available to a user.

Anatomy of a Process Panel
      Anatomy of an I-X Process Panel.

<I-N-C-A> Model
An I-X Process Panel supports a user or collaborative users in selecting and carrying out "processes" and creating or modifying "process products". Both processes and process products are abstractly considered to be made up of "Nodes" (activities in a process, or parts of a process product) which may have parts called sub-nodes making up a hierarchical description of the process or product. The nodes are related by a set of detailed "Constraints" of various kinds. A set of "Issues" is associated with the processes or process products to represent unsatisfied requirements, problems raised as a result of analysis or critiquing, etc. Processes and process products in I-X are represented in the <I-N-C-A> (Issues - Nodes - Constraints - Annotations) Model of Synthesised Artifacts.

I-X Tools
As well as the Process Panel itself, a number of additional tools are provided, accessed via a tools menu or through context dependent action menus. These include:

I-X Process Panel and Tools
The I-X Tools include: 1. Process Panel (I-P2); 2. Domain Editor (I-DE): create and modify process models; 3. I-Space: maintain relationships with other agents; 4. Messenger: instant messaging tool, for both structured and less formal communications; 5. Issue Editor: create, modify, annotate issues.

Take a Guided Tour

See a demonstration of an I-X application. It is available in a number of formats:

Try the System

The current release and documentation is available via http://i-x.info/release/current/ (Version 2.4 onwards runs over Jabber without further software or tailoring.)

Technical requirements: Windows NT/2000/XP or Unix/Linux/MacOS X, Java Runtime Environment 1.3/1.4 (1.4-only planned from mid-2003).

Example Applications

CoAX - 3 Sample Panels
CoAX - 3 Sample Panels.

CoAX - Coalition Agents eXperiment (DARPA, USA):
CoAKTinG - Collaborative Advanced Knowledge Technologies in the Grid - EPSRC/e-Science, UK):
CoSAR-TS - Coalition Search and Rescue - Task Support (DARPA, USA):
    1995-6 work with UK Pitreavie Search and Rescue Cordination Centre
Co-OPR - Collaborative Operations for Personnel Recovery (DARPA, USA):
IM-PACS: Intelligent Messaging - Planning and Collaboration Systems
I-C2 Systems - Intelligent Communication and Coordination

Further Reading

Potter, S., Tate, A. and Wickler, G. (2006) Using I-X Process Panels as Intelligent To-Do Lists for Agent Coordination in Emergency Response, Proceedings of the Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management 2006 (ISCRAM2006), Special Session on "Multiagent Systems for Disaster Management and Response", Newark, New Jersey, USA, May 15-17, 2006. http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/ix/documents/2006/2006-iscram-potter-ix-eresponse.pdf

Tate, A. (2006) The Helpful Environment, Special Issue on Next 50 Years of Intelligent Systems, IEEE Intelligent Systems. Computer Society. http://i-x.info/documents/2006/2006-ieee-is-tate-helpful-environment.pdf

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AIAI Page maintained by a.tate@ed.ac.uk Last updated: Fri Mar 31 14:01:46 2006