TMS for Multimodal Information Processing
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Multimedia Tools and Applications 54 (1): 97-120 (April 2011)

Many working processes are complex and composed by heterogeneous atomic tasks, e.g. editing, assembling data from different sources (as databases or laboratory's devices) with texts, images or learning objects, or submitting them to software components to retrieve information, to render them, re-format, submit to computations, and other types of information processing. All these processes heavily require procedural knowledge which is tacit as owned by experts of the working activity; they are complex and are extremely difficult to be modeled and automatized without having a flexible, multimodular evolutionary system in place. Support to information from different modalities increases the performance of a computer system originally designed for a task with a unimodular nature. In this paper, we discuss the idea of task management system (TMS) as a component-based system which offers a virtual workbench to search, acquire, describe and assemble computational agents performing single autonomous tasks into working processes. We sustain that TMS is a cutting edge platform to develop software solutions for problems related to workflow automatization and design. The architecture we propose follows the conceptual track of the TMS to allow composition and arrangement of atomic modules into a complex system. A configuration of the workflow can be implemented and extended with a set of task/components, chunks of activities which are considered basic elements of the workflow. By interacting with the TMS in editing mode, the workflow designer selects the relevant chunks from system repositories, drags them into a working system area and assembles them into a working process. As the main actor of the system, the workflow designer is provided with an environment resembling an artisan's workshop, to let her/him select the relevant chunks from system repositories, drags them into a working area and assembles them into a working TMS instance, which represents the working process. Global interaction modality of the TMS instance is moulded and specialized on the base of the specific modalities of the task/components which have been retrieved from the system repositories and each time negotiated. Complex activities could be formally described, implemented and applied with a consequent advantage for personnel re-organization toward more conceptual activities.
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