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1996 Technical Reports with Abstracts
"FORMATION: Knowledge-Based Layout of Classified Telephone
Directories"; Gail Anderson, Andrew Casson, Ann Macintosh, Robert Rae,
AIAI and Barry Gleeson, Simon Carter, Pindar Set Ltd; Applications and
Innovations in Expert Systems IV, Proceedings of BCS Expert Systems
'96, Cambridge, UK; December 1996;
PINDAR, the UK company that originates the Yellow Pages for BT, has
developed a business strategy based upon a generic, knowledge-based,
batch layout software suite for use by publishers internationally.
Pindar's clients, publishers such as BT, increasingly insist on faster
and more flexible responses to requests for changes in the way their
books are laid out, and hence the way they look to their customers,
the companies advertising in the Yellow Pages. In order to maintain
its competitive advantage, Pindar formed a strategic alliance with
AIAI at the University of Edinburgh to produce its next generation
directory layout solution -- FORMATION.
FORMATION is a knowledge-based layout system for classified telephone
directories. It comprises a graphical user interface to a batch
layout system and a style definition system with a library of layout
strategies and methods. The system is based on the specialised
language LSSL, a fully featured programming language which has been
developed at AIAI for use in layout systems.
Although FORMATION was required to produce classified telephone
directories, it was intended to be a much more general system. AIAI
has designed a general purpose framework which supports the expression
of knowledge about layout requirements in a natural and modular
manner. This allows detailed knowledge about the layout of the pages
of a book to be considered at a higher level: the book's style.
Through the FORMATION user interface, it is quick and easy to style.
The knowledge-based system has been in trial use with Pindar since
During this time, Pindar has been able to demonstrate the flexibility
of the system to its clients. The approach taken, that is, the design
and implementation of a suitable language in which expert knowledge
about document layout can be expressed, has been well validated.
FORMATION currently runs under Windows on PCs, and will be in full
production use for BT's Yellow Page directories from September 1996.
"Results of the Enterprise Project"; Jussi Stader; Intelligent Systems
Integration Programme, Proceedings of
Expert Systems '96, the 16th Annual Conference of the British Computer
Society Specialist Group on Expert Systems; Cambridge, UK; December 1996;
In this paper we present the results of the Enterprise project which
was concerned with developing a tool set for enterprise modelling.
Our approach concentrates on integration, communication, flexibility,
and support. We describe the Enterprise Tool Set which uses executable
process models to help uers to perform their tasks. The Tool Set is
implemented using an agent-based architecture to integrate
off-the-shelf tools in a plug-and-play style. To ensure effective
interchange of information and knowledge between different users,
tasks and systems, we developed the Enterprise Ontology which defines
terms used in organisations. The project has been successful and
valuable insights have been gained and made available. At AIAI, at
the University of Edinburgh, we are interested in pursuing intelligent
task management, ontologies, and enterprise modelling beyond the end
of the project.
"Knowledge Based Support for Project Planning"; Brian Drabble, AIAI;
Proceedings of Project Management 96 New Concepts in Software; Novatol
Hotel, London, March 1996;
This paper describes a number of new ideas and technologies from the
field of knowledge based planning systems which could be used to build
the next generation project management system. The type of project
management system described would allow different systems and users to
cooperate in the project management task and communicate plans, tasks,
alternatives and options between them. The paper surveys the current
state of project management tools and highlights their problems in
dealing with distributed, multi-project programmes and initiatives. A
number of key knowledge based technologies have been identified which
could be built of top of existing legacy systems. A number of
demonstration systems and prototypes have been developed to show the
benefits of these technologies and some of them are described in the paper.
"O-Plan: A Knowledge-Based Planner and its Application to Logistics";
Austin Tate, Brian Drabble and Jeff Dalton, AIAI; In Advanced Planning
Technology, The Technological Achievements of the ARPA/Rome Laboratory
Planning Initiative; (ed. Tate, A.), AAAI Press; Menlo Park,
California; May 1996;
O-Plan is a command, planning and control architecture with an open
modular structure intended to allow experimentation on, or replacement
of, various components. The research is seeking to determine which
functions are generally required in a number of application areas and
across a number of different command, planning, scheduling and control systems.
O-Plan aims to demonstrate how a planner, situated in a task
assignment and plan execution (command and control) environment, and
using extensive domain knowledge, can allow for flexible, distributed,
collaborative, and mixed initiative planning. The research is seeking
to verify this total systems approach by studying a simplified
three-level model with separable task assignment, plan generation and
plan execution agents.
O-Plan has been applied to logistics tasks that require flexible
response in changing situations.
"Modelling Software Development Processes and Standards"; Jim Doheny
and Ian Filby; This paper was presented at The Software Quality
Conference, Dundee, UK; July, 1996;
This paper describes a conceptual framework and associated support tool,
which we have developed for modelling and assessing software development
processes and standards. We believe that this technology will play an
important role in assisting project managers to plan projects such that the
software development processes meet quality assurance requirements.
Software process modelling can also assist project auditors and others in
assessing a development process. In addition to using our process modelling
framework to represent specific software development projects, we are also
using the framework to model in an explicit form the contents of software
development standards and quality procedures. Software development
standards and procedures contain provisions for activities, methods or
artifacts; they are effectively fragments of development processes or
constraints on the development process. A support tool, ASPEN (A Software
Process ENgineering tool), is being developed which provides support for
project auditors in evaluating existing projects and for project managers
in planning new projects. Development processes are assessed using
knowledge bases of development methods, technical standards and engineering
"best practice". ASPEN runs on UNIX platforms under MOTIF and PCs under MS
280K doc file
"A Framework and Tool for Modelling and Assessing Software Development
Processes"; Jim Doheny and Ian Filby, AIAI; This paper was presented
at The European Software Control and Metrics Conference; Wilmslow, UK;
This paper describes a conceptual framework and associated support tool,
which we have developed for modelling and assessing software development
processes. We believe that Process modelling technology provides a good
basis for helping to improve understanding and communication of the way
that software is developed. It can assist project managers to plan projects
that meet quality assurance requirements and can also assist project
auditors and others in assessing a development process. Our process
modelling framework is based on a process ontology (vocabulary) that
incorporates software project artifacts (e.g. design specifications and
code), methods, activities and the agents (people or computer programs)
that carry out these activities. Development processes are assessed using
knowledge of development methods, technical standards and engineering
"best practice". In addition to representing specific software development
projects, we are using the framework to model in an explicit form the
contents of software development standards and quality procedures.
168K doc file
"A Framework for Modelling Software Development Processes"; Jim Doheny
and Ian Filby, AIAI; This paper was presented at the Software Quality
Management IV, Cambridge, UK; April, 1996;
This paper describes the ASPEN software process modelling framework and
support tool. The modelling framework is based on a process ontology
(vocabulary) that incorporates software project artifacts (e.g. design
specifications and code), methods, activities and the agents that carry out
these activities. It includes a rich information modelling taxonomy that
supports the classification of project artifacts, by relating the project
artifacts to the things in the 'real-world' which they represent. Software
development standards may be explicitly represented as constraints on the
development process. The ASPEN support tool provides support for project
auditors/assessors in evaluating existing processes and for project
managers in constructing process models.
277K doc file
"Building a KBS for Health and Safety Assessment"; John Kingston,
AIAI; Proceedings of BCS Expert Systems '96: Cambridge; 16-18 December 1996;
EASE (`Estimation and Assessment of Substance Exposure') is a
knowledge-based system for assessing workplace exposure to potentially
hazardous new substances. It was built for the Health and Safety Executive of
the United Kingdom (HSE).
EU regulations require a manufacturer of a new substance to notify the
appropriate authority, who will carry out a risk assessment of it.
To aid this process, guidance is provided by the regulator for use by both
authorities and manufacturers.
This is usually provided as a paper document, but
HSE decided that a computer based guidance system would be of benefit.
Safety-related considerations and a desire for quality led to the
system being developed in
accordance with ISO9001 standards.
The system guides the user by offering a menu of appropriate choices
whenever it needs information.
The use of CommonKADS ensured that the problem requirements and the
expert knowledge involved were captured within a standard framework which
promoted unambiguous communication between the members of the project team
and provided a solid base for system design, implementation, maintenance, and
The system was implemented using the NASA CLIPS
development tool for the inference engine and knowledge base.
Initially required to run under MS-DOS on a PC AT equivalent with 640K of RAM,
a second release to run under Windows 3.1 reused the inference engine and
knowledge base, requiring only a revised user interface.
The system has been widely distributed for use by authorities throughout
"Evaluation of workbenches which support the CommonKADS methodology";
John Kingston, Jim Doheny and Ian Filby, AIAI; Appears in Knowledge
Engineering Review, 10, 3, 1995;
£ 12.00 UK/surface mail; £ 14.00 airmail
The KADS methodology and its successor, CommonKADS, have gained a
reputation for being useful approaches to building knowledge based
systems in a manner which is both systematic and well documented.
However, these methods require considerable effort to use them
completely. It has been suggested that automated support for KADS or
CommonKADS users, in the form of "knowledge engineering workbenches",
could be very useful. These tools would provide computerised
assistance to knowledge engineers in organising and representing
knowledge, in a similar fashion to the support which CASE tools
provide for software engineers. In order to provide support for the
modelling techniques recommended by these methods, which are very
detailed in the representation and analysis stages of knowledge
engineering. A good knowledge engineering workbench should also be
easy to use, should be robust and reliable, and should generate output
in a presentable format.
This paper reports on an evaluation of two commercially available workbenches for supporting the KADS approach: KADS Tool from ILOG and
Open KADS Tool project, funded by the European Community's ESSI
programme, which aimed to introduce CommonKADS to two
technology-oriented companies. Information is also presented on two
other workbenches: the CommonKADS workbench (which will soon become
commercial the VITAL workbench. The results show
various strengths and weaknesses in each tool.
"Knowledge Level Planning in the Search and Rescue domain"; Hugh
Cottam, University of Nottingham; Nigel Shadbolt, University of
Nottingham; John Kingston, AIAI; Howard Beck, AIAI and Austin Tate,
AIAI; Appears in Research and Development in Expert Systems XII,
Proceedings of BCS Expert Systems '95, Cambridge, December, 1995;
£ 5.00 UK/surface mail; £ 7.00 airmail
The increased use of intelligent decision support systems has created
a demand for efficient acquisition, implementation and maintenance of
the knowledge required by such systems. The field of knowledge level
modelling has developed as a means to this end. This has led to the
construction of methodologies for KBS development that facilitate a
generic approach to knowledge acquisition. Such generic approaches
have achieved great success when applied to various domains, yet have
thus far largely neglected the generic areas of planning, scheduling
and resource allocation. In this paper we outline the development of
such a generic approach within the domain of planning for Search and
Rescue. Our generic approach makes a distinction between domain
derived knowledge level models and those derived from systems. We
describe how the combination of these two types of model can achieve
definite benefits within the course of KBS development.
"CommonKADS Models for Knowledge Based Planning"; John Kingston, AIAI;
Austin Tate, AIAI and Nigel Shadbolt, University of Nottingham;
Presented at the AAAI 96', Portland, Oregon; August 1996;
The CommonKADS methodology is a collection of structured methods for building
knowledge based systems. A key component of CommonKADS is the
library of generic inference models which can be applied to tasks of specified
types. These generic models can either be used as frameworks for
knowledge acquisition, or to verify the completeness of models
developed by analysis of the domain. However, the generic models for
some task types, such as knowledge-based planning, are not
well-developed. Since knowledge-based planning is an important
commercial application of Artificial Intelligence, there is a clear need for
the development of generic models for planning tasks.
Many of the generic models which currently exist have been derived from
existing AI systems. These models have the strength of proven applicability.
There are a number of well-known and well-tried AI planning systems in
existence; one of the best known is the Open Planning Architecture (O-Plan).
This paper describes the development of a CommonKADS generic inference model
for knowledge-based planning tasks, based on the capabilities of the O-Plan
system. The paper also briefly describes the verification of this model in
the context of a real-life planning task: the assignment and management of
RAF Search and Rescue operations.
PDF file This report is only available online..
The published version of the paper is available from
the AAAI Document Server.
"The PIF Process Interchange Format and Framework Version 1.1";
Jintae Lee, Michael Gruninger, Yan Jin, Thomas Malone, Austin Tate, Gregg Yost,
and other members of the PIF Working Group;
MIT Center for Coordination Science Working Paper ~194, Cambridge, MA; 1996;
£ 10.00 UK/surface mail; £ 12.00 airmail
This document provides the specification of the Process Interchange
Format (PIF) version 1.1. The goal of this work is to develop an
interchange format to help automatically exchange process descriptions
among a wide variety of business process modelling and support systems
such as workflow software, flow charting tools, planners, process
simulation systems, and process repositories. Instead of having to
write ad hoc translators for each paif of such systems, each system
will only need to have a single translator for converting process
descriptions in that system into and out of the common PIF format.
Then any system will be able to automatically exchange basic process
descriptions with any other system.
This document describes the PIF-CORE 1.1, ie., the core set of object
types (such as activities, agents and prerequisite relations) that can
be used to describe the basic elements of any process. The document
also describes a framework for extending the core set of object types
to include additional information needed in specific applications.
These extended descriptions are exchanged in such a way that the
common elements are interpretable by any PIF translator and the
additional elements are interpretable by any translator that knows
about the extensions.
The PIF format was developed by a working group including
representatives from several universities and companies and has been
used for experimental automatic translations among systems developed
independently at three of these sites. This document is being
distributed in the hopes that other groups will comment upon the
interchange format proposed here and that this format (or future
versions of it) may be useful to other groups as well. The PIF
Document 1.0 was released in December 1994, and the current document
reports the revised PIF that incorporate the feedback received since then.
"Enterprise Modelling and Knowledge"; John Fraser; presented at the Oil and
Gas Information Conference 96, Stavanger, Norway; 1996;
£ 2.00 UK/surface mail; £ 3.00 airmail
In this paper I acknowledge the value of Information Technology (IT)
to the modern enterprise. I suggest, however, that the value of IT in
managing the key resource of any company - its people, their knowledge
and their ability to learn - is limited. The long-term health of
companies, industries and national economies relies on an
understanding of the dynamic nature of knowledge, of systems and
ultimately of people. It can be a great help but, without the
understanding, it can create a dangerous veneer of progress.
What we should be working towards is the creation and management of
knowledge - the test for knowledge is whether prediction is possible -
and perhaps we will see a new era of "knowledge technology" to follow
that of information technology.
"Converting an Informal Ontology into Ontolingua: Some Experiences";
Mike Uschold; A slightly abridged version of this paper appears in the
Proceedings of the Workshop on Ontological Engineering held in
conjunction with ECAI 96, Budapest; March 1996;
£ 5.00 UK/surface mail; £ 7.00 airmail
We report our experiences of converting a carefully defined informal
ontology expressed in natural language into the formal language: Ontolingua.
The objectives of this paper are 1) to explore some of the nitty gritty
details of formalising ontology definitions and 2) to serve as a basis for
clarifying the relationship between this and other approaches to ontology
construction (e.g. using competency questions), for the eventual aim
of producing a comprehensive methodology
We first discuss concepts in the meta-ontology, including entities, classes,
instances, relationships, roles, sets and states of affairs. With respect
to roles, we define a special meta-class to classify objects whose existence
necessarily depends on their being in a relationship with some other entity
(e.g a customer). We describe a mechanism for classifying states of affairs
which can be used to restrict what can be in certain relationships (e.g
We then note some general issues that arise when producing formal
definitions of the main terms; e.g. representing terms from a
difference perspective, and identifying when and how new terms must be
introduced. The need for new terms arises not only to fill gaps, but also
to make explicit facts and logical dependencies that were only implied by
the text definitions.
"ONTOLOGIES: Principles, Methods and Applications"; Mike Uschold, AIAI
& Michael Gruninger, University of Toronto; To appear in Knowledge
Engineering Review, Volume 11 Number 2, June 1996;
£ 14.00 UK/surface mail; £ 16.00 airmail
This paper is intended to serve as a comprehensive introduction to the
emerging field concerned with the design and use of ontologies. We observe
that disparate backgrounds, languages, tools, and techniques are a
major barrier to effective communication among people, organisations, and/or
software systems. We show how the development and implementation of an
explicit account of a shared understanding (i.e. an `ontology') in a given
subject area, can improve such communication, which in turn, can give rise
to greater reuse and sharing, inter-operability, and more reliable software.
After motivating their need, we clarify just what ontologies are and what
purposes they serve. We outline a methodology for developing and evaluating
ontologies, first discussing informal techniques, concerning such issues as
scoping, handling ambiguity, reaching agreement and producing definitions.
We then consider the benefits of and describe, a more formal approach. We
re-visit the scoping phase, and discuss the role of formal languages and
techniques in the specification, implementation and evaluation of
ontologies. Finally, we review the state of the art and practice in this
emerging field, considering various case studies, software tools for
ontology development, key research issues and future prospects.
"MOBEDIC - A Decision Modelling Tool For Emergency Situations";
Jim Doheny, John Fraser;
Expert Systems with Applications, vol 10, 1996;
£ 2.50 UK/surface mail; £ 3.50 airmail
This paper describes a software tool that we have developed at AIAI
for modelling the decisions that people make in emergency situations
in offshore environments. The tool was developed using C++ and runs
on a PC under MS Windows. It has a generic architecture and can be
easily extended to other environments with different characteristics,
e.g., hospitals, commercial buildings, etc. We use frames to
represent a person's characteristics and their perception of the
environment; scripts are used to define typical behaviours for
particular situations. Our tool can be used to predict the likely
behaviours of a population in hazardous situations and help evaluate
the effectiveness of emergency procedures and training.
We have worked with our collaborators to integrate our decision model
with their model of people's movement to produce a system that can
realistically simulate emergency scenarios on offshore structures. We
believe that this is the first egress and evacuation modelling tool to
incorporate both decision making and movement modelling. Our work is
therefore an important step in the introduction of improved approaches
to the evaluation of offshore safety management.
Validating the decision model proved difficult because of lack of
suitable data. We acquired additional data by interviewing offshore
personnel and monitoring a mustering exercise. We then simulated an
offshore emergency scenario and the results were encouraging. In the
future we would like to enhance our model by incorporating
communication between personnel. This would allow us to model complex
scenarios, especially those that cannot be simulated realistically in
Last updated: 14th August 2015
by Austin Tate