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Thesis Defense - Blumenthal

Supporting Unstructured Activities with a Meta-Contextual Protocol
Computer Science PhD Candidate
4/6/1998
10:00am-12:00pm

Process-based workflow lives in tension between the conflicting demands associated with the structured automation of computational processes and the unstructured situated nature of actual office work. This dissertation defines a situation-based workflow approach that balances the prescriptive requirements of the former against the descriptive needs of the latter.

This new workflow approach is captured in the design of a Semi-Structured Information Control Network workflow model (ICNs) and an associated ICNs interpreter. This situation-based ICNs modeling formalism extends the previous process-based ICN formalism by modeling unstructured workflow activities using a representation that models the situated context in which the activity occurs. The corresponding interpreter uses an API based on a Meta-Contextual Protocol (MCP) language to support the contextual information needs of end-users who dynamically construct the contextual environments comprising an unstructured ICNs workflow activity.

In addition to describing the ICNs formalism, ICNs interpreter, and MCP language, this dissertation also describes a framework for characterizing situation-based workflow approaches. Several case studies, and associated background information, describing the limitations of process-based workflow systems addressed by the situation-based ICNs workflow approach are also presented.

Committee: Gary Nutt, Professor (Chair)
Clarence (Skip) Ellis, Professor
Clayton Lewis, Professor
James Martin, Associate Professor
Ilze Zigurs, School of Business
Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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