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Architecture for Complex Configuration Processes

Intelligent Assistant Architecture for Complex Configuration Processes - By Vasudha Gupta, Sponsored by TDCI Inc

Knowledge representation is a difficult task in the field of product configuration. This problem is most prevalent in industries such as manufacturing, sales design and installation to name a few. Existing configuration systems are not functionally complete enough to deal with the complexity of these product configuration processes and provide the desirable configurations to the user. This thesis is an attempt to do an extensive requirement analysis of the configuration process, and motivates the need for incremental re-architecture of existing systems. There are two approaches to product configuration. In the first, known as the rules based approach, step by step guidance to the user can lead them towards a valid configuration. The other constraint based approach gives the user the flexibility to decide what to select and in what order while limiting the allowed combination of values. The thesis tries to tackle the different issues involved in a complex configuration process by proposing an architecture termed as the Intelligent Assistant Architecture or IAA. This architecture is based on the idea that effective complex configuration processes need user participation and are best designed using constraint-based approaches with interfaces built using cognitive science principles. The architecture motivates the shift from the product to the process of configuration. It provides a set of desirable qualities to build correct configuration models. It also provides conceptual views based on cognitive science principles to effectively depict these models to enrich the user experience and help the users in better decision making. Field data from a case study is used to create multiple representations of configuration views which are compared using two different evaluation approaches to demonstrate their usefulness and applicability. The thesis then proposes an integrated method for evaluation by combining two independent approaches. Finally, the thesis discusses a solution approach based on the idea of interactive constraints using a prototype where the user is closely interacting with the configuration process. Click here for poster

Student: Vasudha Gupta

Sponsored by TDCI Inc

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