KRAFT-I-X - Supporting Collaboration in Virtual Organisations

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Author: Kit-Ying Hui*, Jessica Chen-Burger**, Peter Gray*, Steve Potter**, Alun Preece*, Austin Tate**

Owner: The University of Aberdeen, University and Edinburgh, Kit-Ying Hui, Jessica Chen-Burger

Affiliation: *Department of Computing Science, The University of Aberdeen, **AIAI, CISA, Informatics, the University of Edinburgh

Addresses KM Challenge(s): Knowledge Acquisition, Modelling, Sharing and Reuse, and Maintenance

Builds on other technologies: KRAFT, I-X, FBPML, CoLan, Workflow Engineering, Ontologies, Knowledge Representation and Engineering, Constraint Logic Programming, Prolog, KQML, Linda, XML, Prolog, JAVA

What's the Problem?

Modern organisations are virtual entities. People working in organisations are located in different places, each with different capabilities and responsibilities. They need to work collaboratively to accomplish tasks and together to achieve common organisational goals. Tasks that are required to be accomplish are often not trivial but require specialised expertise and sophisticated technologies that are based on local knowledge and experiences. It, therefore, can not be taken for granted that the co-ordination among distributed sites are always carried out smoothly and effectively. In fact much organisational collaborative effort must be made. 

Towards a Solution

Providing a Collaborative Support Framework for Virtual Organisational Collaboration:

Workflow and Business Process Modelling techniques are well-recognised for their values for promoting and achieving effectiveness and efficiency of co-ordination of distributed organisational operations. These technologies have been offered by AIAI, The University of Edinburgh. The aim is to provide a distributed knowledge-based (and agent-based) workflow system that is open-architecture. Its ability can be enhanced by arbitrary knowledge-based intelligent agents when appropriate. In this technology integrating experiment (TIE), we connect the workflow system with the KRAFT system of Aberdeen University. KRAFT is a distributed information system that integrates mobile constraints and data from heterogeneous resources to compose and solve constraint satisfaction problems (CSPs). It provides the domain-independent constraint reasoning and solving capabilities which are utilised by I-X. Figure 1 illustrates a conceptual overview of the integrated system and a user scenario between them from the I-X perspective:

Figure 1: Conceptual Overview of mapping and communication between Edinburgh and Aberdeen Sites

The Ultimate Goals of our effort is to explore ways to provide support for a Virtual Organisation and its operations between businesses. The KRAFT-I-X tie is only a small step towards that goal. Figure 2 shows a top-level view of the KRAFT-I-X TIE architecture:

Figure 2: Simplified System Architecture and a Communication Path

In this experiment, two I-X process panels have been used. This enables work items to be transferred between the two organisations, i.e. the Edinburgh and Aberdeen units, each is represented in the ED and ABDN panel. One of the tasks that needs to be resolved on the Edinburgh site requires technical abilities. The Edinburgh site, being a marketing and accounting unit, naturally calls out its technical unit, the Aberdeen site, for support. As this problem requires constraint solving techniques, the Aberdeen site (panel) calls out to KRAFT.  In doing so, necessary details of the problem are provided, including the domain model, requirements in the form of constraints and the solution space defined by a set of data objects. After resolving the problem, KRAFT returns the solution to the Aberdeen panel which returns the solution to the Edinburgh site.

The actual connection between I-X and KRAFT involves the use of other technologies, such as the AKT-Bus and constraints encoding in RDF format. Further details can be found in the reading list.

Take a Guided Tour

This movie was captured during a live deployment of the two systems mentioned: the Edinburgh University's I-X Process Panel and Aberdeen University's KRAFT system. They were located in two different cities: Edinburgh and Aberdeen cities in UK. In this movie, it shows how people live in different geographical areas (who may or may not work for the same organisation) may collaborate with each other following certain workflow practice. It also demonstrates specialised talents (such as constraint solving capabilities) within/or outside of the organisation may be called upon to help solve problems that the organisation can not deal with on its own. 

Example Applications

Further Reading

Key Documents

Other relevant documents