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Last modified: November 15, 2000
DARPA Communicator Project and XML Log Standard

[November 15, 2000] The DARPA Communicator Project is hosted by the MITRE Corporation. "The DARPA Communicator program will provide the next generation of intelligent conversational interfaces to distributed information. The goal is to support the creation of speech-enabled interfaces that scale gracefully across modalities, from speech-only to interfaces that include graphics, maps, pointing and gesture. The Communicator program will support complex conversational interaction, where both user and the system can initiate interaction, provide information, ask for clarification, signal non-understanding, or interrupt the other participant. The Communicator program will provide the infrastructure necessary to solve complex, multi-domain problems, such as meeting coordination and travel planning, that require access to multiple data sources, including weather information, airline travel, car and hotel rental, calendar access and e-mail and voice-mail access. Underlying the Communicator project is the Communicator architecture, designed to support rapid and cost-effective development of network-centric, multi-modal interfaces. The Communicator architecture will build on emerging commercial standards in the speech and language areas (e.g., SAPI) and extend these to support intelligent, multi-party conversational interaction. The architecture will support a plug-and-play approach to interface development, so that multiple developers, from both industry and academia, can combine architecture-compliant commercial software and cutting edge research components. Architecture development will include an evolving infrastructure and software repository that supports the rapid tailoring and integration of new interfaces, providing access to new sources of information. The architecture will evolve to support multi-participant interaction over a variety of modalities (telephone, mobile wireless communicator, keyboard-less interaction, PDAs)."

The Log Standard Proposal "is intended to establish standards for logfile contents and format. We will try to determine what is the smallest set of data necessary in order to re-run a system, yet also includes meaningful metrics. This may vary depending on how much of the system is to be re-run as well as what we would like to measure. In the process we will attempt to establish a standard format which all logfiles can be converted to (or generated in, although we foresee that at least a minimal amount of inferencing might be required to render the logs in this form). A goal of this document is to provide a standard that is flexible and general enough such that it could be used in different domains. In order to accomplish this goal, we will propose an XML DTD which records the basic events in a Communicator-compliant system which can be annotated with type information indicating that a data element is 'significant' from the point of view of annotators (and annotation tools). To clarify we will consider the following (term definitions are by no means final and are open to suggestion): (1) Session - The interaction of a user with the system. In our current demonstration the equivalent of a phone call. A session is composed of a set of turns. (2) Turn - The set of operations performed by the system in the course of processing and presenting a single dialogue participant's utterance. (3) Operation - Every command executed by the system within a turn. Every operation can send and receive data. (4) Message - Messages are items sent from a server to the hub, and their replies. In contrast to operations, messages are initiated by servers. (5) Events - Examples of events are internal hub errors, locks, alarm expirations, alarm enabling/disabling, and alarm resets. (6) Data - A set of key/value pairs..."


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