The story of how the DISCUS project evolved is a little like the old commercials for a certain candy: Chocolate and peanut butter collide and a new taste treat is created.
Similarly, DISCUS brings together the genetic algorithm research of the Illinois Genetic Algorithms Laboratory, led by David Goldberg; the data mining and text mining work of NCSA’s Automated Learning Group (ALG), under the direction of Michael Welge; the concept of chance discovery and the KeyGraph technique; and collaboration tools.
DISCUS project leader Xavier F. Llorà, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of General Engineering, explains that the goal of the project has been to provide an easy-to-use framework that combines those underlying concepts and technologies. DISCUS users don’t have to understand all of the subtleties of interactive genetic algorithms or text mining; they just need to familiarize themselves with the DISCUS interface that allows them to tap those powerful tools.
The features of the DISCUS prototype include:
- Collaboration tools, including message boards, instant messaging capability, and chat rooms. Both parallel and sequential discussions are possible. Information can be shared among group discussions and discussions can be archived for later review and analysis.
- Data and text analysis via the D2K (Data to Knowledge) and ThemeWeaver tools developed at NCSA.
- User-centric genetic algorithm models for innovation support. The shared and archived “solution centers” are provided to users as potential solutions, which the users can evaluate, combine, and elaborate to form new solution options. DISCUS also facilitates web searching as a source of outside input, filters solutions, and matches problems to the most relevant system users.
- Chance discovery computational embodiments. Archived discussion logs can be analyzed, even while the discussion is still active. KeyGraphs of these logs provides a map of the discussion, serving to summarize and focus the discussion as it progresses and helping to identify relevant scenarios and the connections between them. DISCUS provides real-time KeyGraph analysis, allowing any participant to analyze the scenario, highlight key topics, and share this analysis with collaborators.
Go To Page 3