Abstract

Over the past decade CDM Technologies, Inc. (CDM) in conjunction with the Collaborative Agent Design Research Center (CADRC) at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, has developed a suite of information-centric software tools in support of military deployment and distribution processes. All of these tools feature agents that are capable of reasoning about data in the context provided by an internal information model. Together they represent an evolving suite of adaptive Knowledge Management Enterprise Services (KMES) that can be readily configured into a net-centric planning and decision-support toolset for a particular application domain.

As a set of KMES tools the Integrated Computerized Deployment System (ICODES) is configured to support the movement of supplies in the military deployment and sustainment operational domain. The application focus is conveyance load-planning, including the staging of cargo in marshalling yards, assembly areas, and rail heads. However, the application area can be easily broadened through the interoperability of ICODES with other KMES toolsets such as TRANSWAY for route planning, and the Joint Forces Collaborative Toolset (JFCT) for the planning and assessment of sea-based logistical operations.

ICODES is an example of a new generation of information-centric military decision-support systems that feature expert agents with automatic reasoning and analysis capabilities. This is made possible by an internal virtual representation of the load-planning environment, in terms of conveyance and cargo characteristics and the complex relationships that constitute the context within which load-planning operations are performed. ICODES agents monitor the principal determinants of cargo stowage, including: the placement and segregation requirements for hazardous cargo items; the trim, list, stress, and bending moments of ship structures; the accessibility of stow areas through ramps, cranes, elevators, hatches, and doors; the correct placement of cargo items in respect to fire lanes, no-stow areas, reserved stow areas, and intercargo spacing tolerances; and, the accuracy of cargo characteristics (e.g., dimensions, weight, type, and identification codes) relative to standard cargo libraries and associated reference tables.

In addition, ICODES includes the JINNI module that allows users to create staging areas and marshalling yards, giving ICODES the ability to support load-planning operations in the broader spectrum of tracking cargo through the deployment stages of assembly, staging, load-planning, and the rearrangement of load-plans during transit1.

Like all KMES components that CDM has developed over the past 12 years, the ICODES suite of planning and decision-support tools have been designed and implemented within the Integrated Cooperative Decision Making (ICDM) software environment2. ICDM is an application development framework for distributed decision-support systems incorporating software agents that collaborate with each other and human users to monitor changes (i.e., events) in the state of problem situations, generate and evaluate alternative plans, and alert human users to immediate and developing resource shortages, failures, threats, and similar adverse conditions. A core component of any ICDM-based application is a virtual representation of the real world problem (i.e., decision-making) domain. This virtual representation takes the form of an internal information model, commonly referred to as an ontology. By providing context (i.e., data plus relationships) the ontology is able to support the automated reasoning capabilities of rule-based software agents.

Principal objectives that are realized to varying degrees by the ICDM Development Toolkit include: support of an ontology-based, distributed, information-centric system environment that limits internal communications to changes in information; ability to automatically push changes in information to clients, based on individual subscription profiles that are changeable during execution; ability of clients to assign priorities to their subscription profiles; ability of clients to generate information queries in addition to their standing subscription-based requests; automatic management of object relationships (i.e., associations) during the creation, deletion and editing of objects; support for the management of internal communication transmissions through load balancing, self-diagnosis, self-association and self-healing capabilities; and, the ability to interface with external data sources through interoperability bridges and ontological facades.

This report is divided into three parts. The first part presents ICODES from an operational perspective focusing on load-planning and the staging of cargo. The second part describes the technical basis of ICODES as a suite of ICDM-based KMES components, and the third part discusses ICODES from an evolutionary perspective highlighting on-going development to expand the set of capabilities offered by the ICODES suite of tools.

Disciplines

Software Engineering

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URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cadrc/10