Informatics Programme in
Knowledge Modelling and Systems
Notes - 5-Dec-97

Area | Participants | University Context | International Context

Area of Interest

The programme will focus on the methods and techniques for the creation and maintenance of knowledge-based models and their uses for a wider range of purposes.

The areas of interest (non-exclusively) includes:

For tasks such as: In application areas like:

Possible Participants

This potential Informatics Programme in Knowledge Modelling and Systems is at the early stages of discussion and, as we argue below, there is scope for participation across Informatics and beyond. Much of the value of the programme will stem from the interaction between applied and theoretical research.

Some Informatics Division members will consider this programme to be their main affiliation. Others may wish to devote a smaller proportion of their effort to it. Both types of participation are welcome.

Those expressing an interest as a main affiliation are:

Those expressing an interest for some part of their research work are: Research students who have expressed interest in the programme are: Regular visitors to the University or regular project collaborators from other organisations who have expressed interest in the programme are:

University Context

It is becoming common to build models to express our understanding of problems and systems. Academically, this is a foundational component of culturally diverse sub-areas (such as requirements engineering, knowledge acquisition and simulation modelling). These academic boundaries are less meaningful to industry where it is not considered remarkable, for example, to use a knowledge representation method drawn from the symbolic knowledge representation community but draw conclusions from it using inference mechanisms from the neural network community. This difference in emphasis, between broad pragmatism in application and narrowly focused research, is reflected within Informatics at present. Academic coverage is localised and patchy so it has not been possible to build or maintain a critical mass in this area. Our industrial activity in this area (primarily through AIAI) is well established but is limited in the scope of work it can perform and in the visitors and students with which it can afford to interact. A programme combining both theoretical and applied strands of Informatics could provide academics with more opportunities to tackle the type of heterogeneous problem which is typical of this area, whilst ensuring that our applied work has more flexible access to academic results. One of the strengths of this programme is its connection to "the sharp end" of application, and this has normally meant tackling problems from sources external to the University. Although the ability to attract external funding is a measure of our success, perhaps we should be prepared occasionally to take our own medicine. The aim of the University is to advance and disseminate knowledge and understanding through research and teaching. We have been slow to exploit the possibilities of formal knowledge representation and modelling to help us understand and manage parts of this process. Other UK universities are already in pursuit of this goal (a recent example being the Open University's new Knowledge Media Institute) and our programme would be well placed to explore what could be achieved at Edinburgh, both within and outside of Informatics.

International Context

The ACM Workshop on Strategic Directions in Computing Research describes (from a US perspective) key directions for future research in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Formal Methods (FM), Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Software Engineering (SE). Although the style of description varies between areas, several interests within the Knowledge Modelling Programme recur as key directions in different areas. Some of these are given below, simply to illustrate the scope for interaction across Informatics. This list is not definitive of the programme's aims.

These proposals do not have official backing and express suggestions for wider discussion.
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Last updated: Thu Aug 27 15:06:01 1998 by Austin Tate ( and David Robertson (