Final Report of IMS Test Case 7

GNOSIS: Knowledge Systematization: Configuration Systems for Design and Manufacturing


A major objective of the test case was to determine the feasibility, benefits and problems of operating a large-scale international research project with many partners. This section addresses the issues of coordination and communication.

5.1 Communications

The main forms of communication between partners in the test case are shown in Figure 7. The inter-regional and technical work package meetings allowed partners to come to know one another, to exchange accounts of experience, research capabilities and needs, and to develop plans and agree responsibilities. Fax and telephone communication were used extensively to coordinate ongoing activities. Researcher exchange was limited for reasons already discussed, but what took place was significant in supporting technical collaboration. Electronic mail was used between some 23 of the 31 partner organizations, and mail list servers were set up at partner sites in Tokyo and Stuttgart that supported work package and administrative coordination. Large numbers of technical documents were exchanged at the meetings, and managing the volume of these was a problem in its own right. As an experiment, all the material from the first TW4 work package meeting in Tokyo was converted to electronic form through optical character recognition and digitization, and a 300 page proceedings created in a uniform style. The document included digitized movies of the software demonstrations given, and was made available in paper and CD-ROM form.

Figure 7 Main forms of communication in GNOSIS test case

The electronic mailing list servers played a very important role in facilitating the GNOSIS test case coordination, and continue to operate as the major means of ongoing collaboration between partners. Currently they are in heavy use as the consortium prepares a long-term GNOSIS project proposal. Figure 8 illustrates the operation of the servers. Partners anywhere in the world sent electronic mail to mailing lists on machines in Tokyo or Stuttgart. These machines then re-distributed it to all the other partners who had registered with the mailing list. The Stuttgart machine also faxed the mail to the few partners who did not have email facilities.

Figure 8 Electronic mailing list server operation

Mailing lists were set up for the entire project, each work package, the Executive Committee, and for users of one of the tools distributed. Figure 9 shows the usage of the lists during the April-October 1993 period.

Figure 9 Electronic mailing list server usage

5.2 Meeting Costs

The expense of the time and travel involved in the meetings necessary to the operation of the test case were of major concern. Figure 10 gives statistics on the number of people involved from partners in the various regions, together with an estimation of travel costs based on the actual meetings attended.

Figure 10 GNOSIS test case statistics of involvement and meeting cost

Contents, Previous Section, Next Section, IMS Page, KSI Page 1-Sep-94