Design and implementation of a distributed rule-based query system supporting conference organization

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University of New Brunswick


Conference organization involves a multitude of procedures consuming much time and effort of their Organization Committees ( OCs). Conference organization systems attempt to alleviate the burden of repetitive tasks through the (partial) automation of organizational processes. This thesis is focused on the design and implementation of automated query answering about a conference, retrieving and deriving QC-related information for use by (other) OC members, (candidate) PC members, (prospective) authors, as well as (potential) partners, sponsors, and participants. The Rule Responder framework is instantiated to a distributed rule-based system relieving OC members from answering such routine requests. Each team of co-chairs from the symposium's OC is supported by a Personal Agent (PA) that uses a local knowledge base containing co-chair facts and rules to answer queries for which the co-chairs are responsible. The External Agent (EA) acts as a single point of entry for users to interact with the system employing a Web form coupled to an HTTP port to which post and get requests are sent. The system has three Organizational Agents ( OAs), where one Super-Organizational Agent (Super-OA) acts as a dispatching manager to direct requests sent by a user via the EA to one of the two Sub-Organizational Agents (Sub-OAs): The “Event” Sub-OA deals with queries about the (‘temporary’) conference edition while the “Structure” Sub-OA handles queries about the (‘permanent’) institution holding the conference series. These Sub-OAs further delegate the requests to underlying PAs representing local knowledge of, respectively, the conference's (temporary) OC co-chairs and the institution's (permanent) subgroup co-chairs. The designed query-answering architecture has been implemented, evaluated, and deployed in the SymposiumPlanner-2012 use case supporting the RuleML-2012 Symposium. General design principles and implementation techniques for future conference planners are distilled from the lessons learnt from this use case.