A model driven component agent framework for domain experts

Jayatilleke, G 2007, A model driven component agent framework for domain experts, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Computer Science and Information Technology, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title A model driven component agent framework for domain experts
Author(s) Jayatilleke, G
Year 2007
Abstract Industrial software systems are becoming more complex with a large number of interacting parts distributed over networks. Due to the inherent complexity in the problem domains, most such systems are modified over time to incorporate emerging requirements, making incremental development a suitable approach for building complex systems. In domain specific systems it is the domain experts as end users who identify improvements that better suit their needs. Examples include meteorologists who use weather modeling software, engineers who use control systems and business analysts in business process modeling. Most domain experts are not fluent in systems programming and changes are realised through software engineers. This process hinders the evolution of the system, making it time consuming and costly. We hypothesise that if domain experts are empowered to make some of the system cha nges, it would greatly ease the evolutionary process, thereby making the systems more effective. Agent Oriented Software Engineering (AOSE) is seen as a natural fit for modeling and implementing distributed complex systems. With concepts such as goals and plans, agent systems support easy extension of functionality that facilitates incremental development. Further agents provide an intuitive metaphor that works at a higher level of abstraction compared to the object oriented model. However agent programming is not at a level accessible to domain experts to capitalise on its intuitiveness and appropriateness in building complex systems. We propose a model driven development approach for domain experts that uses visual modeling and automated code generation to simplify the development and evolution of agent systems. Our approach is called the Component Agent Framework for domain-Experts (CAFnE), which builds upon the concepts from Model Driven Development and the Prometheus agent software engineering methodolo gy. CAFnE enables domain experts to work with a graphical representation of the system, which is easier to understand and work with than textual code. The model of the system, updated by domain experts, is then transformed to executable code using a transformation function. CAFnE is supported by a proof-of-concept toolkit that implements the visual modeling, model driven development and code generation. We used the CAFnE toolkit in a user study where five domain experts (weather forecasters) with no prior experience in agent programming were asked to make changes to an existing weather alerting system. Participants were able to rapidly become familiar with CAFnE concepts, comprehend the system's design, make design changes and implement them using the CAFnE toolkit.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Computer Science and Information Technology
Keyword(s) Computer-aided software engineering
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Created: Wed, 16 Feb 2011, 13:59:44 EST by Keely Chapman
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