The Scope of the Project
Configuration is the technical term for the problem of selecting values for
a set of parameters. The purpose of configuration is typically to setup digital
equipment to behave according to user requirements or to specify needs in a
software system. Common examples of configuration situations from everyday life
is setting up the video-recorder at home or setting up the alarm system at work.
In commerce, configuration arises for instance in tailoring a product to a customer's
needs such as a PC, or in tailoring a service such as a travel. In industry,
the configuration problems are even more complex than what most consumers' experience.
Modern industrial equipment is facing configuration tasks with hundreds of parameters.
Today's business software has thousands of parameters that influence its behaviour.
The situation is that configuration is an omnipresent problem in many disguises.
The goal of this project is to look beneath the disguises and contribute in
three areas: to develop user interfaces suited for solving configuration tasks,
to develop methods for describing product models, and to develop the basic algorithms
needed for constructing configuration software that supports users in performing
intuitive and error-free configurations. The three areas will be addressed by
research in user-centred design, product modelling, and configuration technology.
The project will focus on embedded configuration, where knowledge and rules
about how a product may be configured is embedded in the product itself. Traditionally
the specification of valid product configurations has been separated from the
products themselves and the process of transferring knowledge about valid setup
and installation from product specialists to other functions in a company, partners
and end-users has been costly, error prone and time consuming. Embedded configuration
eliminates the information gap between product specialists and other users of
Embedded configuration is to be based on a product model that captures the
relevant knowledge about the product. The product model is made operational
in the product as a guidance tool using a generic configuration engine and thereby
turning the complex problem of configuration into an integral part of the product
and the value obtained by it. In order to ensure that the guidance of the user
interface is supportive in the configuration process, an approach based on analyzing
the user's work processes must be taken.