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Created: August 26, 2003.
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Preliminary Program for ER2003 International Conference on Conceptual Modeling.

A provisional program listing has been published for the 22nd International Conference on Conceptual Modeling, to be held October 13-16, 2003 in Chicago, IL, USA. The Conference will incorporate four workshops on special aspects of conceptual modeling: eCOMO2003: Conceptual Modeling Approaches for e-Business; IWCMQ: International Workshop on Conceptual Modeling Quality; AOIS: Agent-Oriented Information Systems; XSDM 2003: Workshop on XML Schema and Data Management. In addition to the four workshops, the conference will feature two pre-conference tutorials: "Object-Process Methodology and Its Application to the Visual Semantic Web" and "Data Modeling using XML."

The four keynote presentations will address concepts central to the Semantic Web and Web Services, including Semantic Web application modeling, the interplay of data quality and data semantics, XML in Enterprise Information Integration, and agent-based workflow systems. "ER" in the conference short title ER2003 reflects the original roots of the conference, which focused on the Entity-Relationship Model. The International Conference on Conceptual Modeling "provides a forum for presenting and discussing current research and applications in which conceptual modeling is the major emphasis. There has been a dramatic impact from trends of increased processing power, storage capacity, network bandwidth, interconnectivity, and mobility of computing devices. As processes and interactions in this environment grow more complex, proper design becomes more important. Conceptual modeling continues to have a vital role in advanced information systems development."

The foundational role of conceptual modeling in XML application design is captured by Michael Kay's comment on hierarchical data models: "XML is hierarchical [because] it is optimized for data interchange... this absolutely gives you a design challenge because the models that you get from your data analysis are graphs rather than trees." In other words, while XML may have some best-practice design patterns and idioms, the XML representation is fundamentally arbitrary with respect to the semantics of the application domain. Conceptual modeling is about clear, unambiguous, declarative description of object semantics and relationships.

Conference Details

ER 2003: 22nd International Conference on Conceptual Modeling. October 13 - 16, 2003. DoubleTree North Shore Hotel, [Skokie] Chicago, Illinois, USA. Sponsored by: The ER Institute, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Microsoft Corporation, and Motorola Corporation. Hosted in cooperation with: ACM, SIGMOD, SIGMIS, and DAMA International.

Conference Tutorials and Keynotes

  • Object-Process Methodology and Its Application to the Visual Semantic Web. Presented by Dov Dori (Technion, Israel and MIT). "A comprehensive system modeling methodology with coherent ontology is essential for system architecting and engineering. Object-Process Methodology is a unifying approach for developing, communicating, supporting and evolving systems of various domains, types, magnitudes and complexities. OPM is founded on well-defined ontology with solid infrastructure; it has clear, formal, single-model semantics expressed bi-modally via graphics and natural language. It enables fast and reliable system modeling; and it caters to domain experts who are not IT professionals and therefore enables them to actively engage in the development process as part of the team. Taught at leading institutions of higher education and used in Industry, OPM has evolved as a significant extension of Object technology which caters equally well to systems' structure (through objects and relations) and behavior (through processes that transform objects). OPM encompasses the entire lifecycle of a software system or product, from concept and initiation through development to deployment. The Visual Semantic Web (VSW) is a new paradigm for enhancing the current Semantic Web technology. VSW, which is based on OPM, provides for representation of knowledge over the Web in a unified way that caters to human perceptions while also being machine-processable. The advantages of the VSW approach include graphic-text knowledge representation, visual navigability, semantic sentence interpretation, specification of system dynamics, and complexity management..."

  • Data Modeling using XML. Presented by Murali Mani (UCLA, USA) and Antonio Badia (University of Louisville, USA). "Our tutorial will cover two application scenarios of XML: using XML as a logical model, and publishing relational data as XML. First, we will study how we can use XML as a logical model. We will describe the various options for structural specification for XML such as DTD, XML-Schema, RELAX NG, and also different options for constraint specification for XML such as XML-Schema and other research proposals. We will further describe the stages in the database design process -- coming up with a conceptual schema from real world applications, translating this conceptual schema into a logical schema, and translating this logical schema into physical schema. A conceptual schema is specified in a conceptual data model, such as ER, ORM, or UML. We will compare and contrast the important features of these conceptual models. We will then propose some extensions to ER model, and use this as our conceptual model. We will describe how a conceptual schema can be translated into logical XML schema and give examples. We will further describe what structural and constraint specification features are needed for using XML as a logical model. In the second half of the tutorial, we will describe translation between XML and relational models. We will cover different options for translating XML to relational and study existing systems in this regard..."

  • Semantic Web Application Modeling. Keynote by Erich Neuhold (Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Publication and Information Systems, Germany). "The Semantic Web and the Web service paradigm are currently the most important trends on the way to the next generation of the Web. They promise new opportunities for content and service provision, enabling manifold and flexible new applications and improved support for individual and cooperative tasks. The development of Web applications that can be operated effectively in the Semantic Web context, however, imposes some challenges. Two main challenges towards extended (conceptual) modeling support are addressed in this talk. (1) In the Semantic Web, Web applications move from a purely human user community towards a mixed user community consisting of humans as well as of software agents; this results into new requirements towards models for Web applications' user interfaces; (2) Automatic interpretation of content, one of the main building blocks of the Semantic Web, is based on interlinking local models with globally defined interpretation schemes like vocabularies and ontologies; this has to be reflected by the conceptual application domain models of Semantic Web Applications..."

  • Oh, That's What You Meant! The Interplay of Data Quality and Data Semantics. Keynote by Stuart Madnick (Massachussetts Institute of Technology, USA). "Data quality issues have taken on increasing importance in recent years. In our research, we have discovered that many 'data quality' problems are actually 'data misinterpretation' problems -- that is, problems with data semantics. In this talk, we first illustrate some examples of these problems and then introduce a particular semantic problem that we call 'corporate householding.' We stress the importance of 'context' to get the appropriate answer for each task. Then we propose an approach to handle these tasks using extensions to the COntext INterchange (COIN) technology for knowledge storage and knowledge processing..."

  • Enterprise Information Integration -- XML to the Rescue!. Keynote by Michael J. Carey (BEA Systems, USA). "The database field has been struggling with the data integration problem since the early 1980's. We've named and renamed the problem -- heterogeneous distributed databases, multi-databases, federated databases, mediator systems, and now enterprise information integration systems -- but we haven't actually solved the problem. Along the way, we've tried data model after data model -- functional, relational, object-oriented, logical, semi-structured, you name it, we've tried it -- and query language after query language to go with them -- but we still haven't solved the problem. A number of startups have died trying, and no major software vendor has managed to hit a home run in this area. What's going on? Is the problem too hard? Should we just declare it impossible and give up? In this talk, I'll explain why I believe now would be exactly the wrong time to give up. After a brief look at history, I'll make the case that we are finally on the verge of finding a real solution to this problem. I'll define the enterprise information integration problem as I see it and then explain how the XML and Web Services revolutions that are in progress -- based on SOAP, WSDL, XML Schema, XQuery, and so on -- relate to the problem and its solution..."

  • Workflow using AUML and Agents. Keynote by James J. Odell (James Odell Associates, USA). "Workflow provides a way to standardize processes and processing. For those organizations that have predefined ways of performing activities, workflow is a useful approach. Currently most workflow systems, however, employ a centralized form of coordination. For small systems, such an approach is possible; for large systems, centralized control would quickly paralyze the organization. One way to enable scalability of workflow systems is by using a distributed mechanism such as agents. This presentation describes how to develop agent-based workflow systems using UML -- for analysis, design, and execution. In other words, it describes a model-driven approach (MDA) for distributed workflow...."

From the Call for Participation

"The International Conference on Conceptual Modeling provides a forum for presenting and discussing current research and applications in which conceptual modeling is the major emphasis. There has been a dramatic impact from trends of increased processing power, storage capacity, network bandwidth, interconnectivity, and mobility of computing devices. As processes and interactions in this environment grow more complex, proper design becomes more important. Conceptual modeling continues to have a vital role in advanced information systems development. But new techniques will be required to deal with the challenges facing developers..."

The conference organizers solicit the submission of original research, as well as experience and vision papers from both researchers and practitioners. They welcome any topic where conceptual modeling is a major theme. Specific examples of topics of interest include, but are not limited to, conceptual modeling as applied to:

  • information modeling concepts, including ontologies
  • ontological and conceptual correctness in modeling
  • e-business and Web-based information systems
  • mobile information systems
  • the Semantic Web
  • semistructured data and XML
  • information and database integration
  • information retrieval, organization, summarization, visualization
  • design methodologies and their evaluation
  • software engineering and tools
  • reuse, patterns, and object oriented design
  • quality and metrics
  • conceptual change and schema evolution
  • spatial, temporal, and multimedia aspects in conceptual models
  • metadata, its interpretation and usage
  • reverse engineering and reengineering
  • knowledge management systems
  • user interfaces
  • groupware and workflow management
  • data warehousing and data mining
  • advanced and cross-disciplinary applications

ER2003 Workshops

  • eCOMO2003: Conceptual Modeling Approaches for e-Business. Fourth International Workshop on Conceptual Modeling Approaches for e-Business Dealing with Business Volatility. Workshop Co-Chairs: Heinrich C. Mayr (University of Klagenfurt, Austria) and Willem-Jan van den Heuvel (Tilburg University, The Netherlands).

    Key URLs:

    "Today's increasingly competitive and expanding global marketplace requires companies to cope more effectively with rapidly changing market conditions than ever before. In order to survive in these highly volatile business eco-systems, companies are organizing themselves into integrated enterprises, e.g., according to an integrated value chain. Conceptual business and enterprise models, either at the level of isolated or integrated enterprises, are heralded as an important mechanism for designing and constructing the enterprise information systems."

    "However, until now the research and industrial community has paid little attention to how to develop adaptable business models such that they do not become legacy immediately after being designed. This problem becomes even more important since the arena of E-business collaborations is growing, and since enterprise models tend to become more complex and harder to maintain. In particular, conceptual enterprise modeling methods and tools will have to be developed that allow enterprises to proactively deal with business change so that enterprise models can be easily retrofitted to accommodate reinvented business processes. Within that context, the automatic mapping and harmonization of the ontologies underlying enterprise models is still a question to be investigated. In addition, research issues in the area of business policy specification and change management of enterprise component based models are of paramount importance."

    "The workshop is intended to continue and extend three highly successful predecessor eCOMO workshops which were held during ER'2000 in Salt Lake City, ER'2001 in Yokohama, and ER'2002 in Tampere. It aims at bringing together experts from practice and academia who are working from several independent, but related perspectives on the same research questions, such as from a business modeling, enterprise application integration, semantic web, business meta-data and ontologies, process management, business re-engineering, business models and business communication language perspectives..."

  • IWCMQ: International Workshop on Conceptual Modeling Quality.

    "Quality in conceptual modeling has been a topic of research since the early nineties. After a relatively quiet period in the mid-nineties, a renewed interest in conceptual modeling quality issues is observed. The theme of IWCMQ'03 is 'Quality assurance of modeling processes'. The workshop intends to provide a forum for researchers and practitioners working on approaches, frameworks, methods, techniques, guidelines, and tools for measuring, predicting, evaluating, controlling, and improving the quality of conceptual modeling processes, facilities and products."

    "Conceptual modeling fulfills a bridge function with other disciplines such as business process (re)engineering, requirements engineering, information systems engineering, software engineering, web application/site design, and database design. Therefore the workshop is not limited to a particular flavor of conceptual modeling. It is open to work related to any type of 'real-world' requirements modeling and analysis (e.g., domain modeling, business/enterprise modeling, conceptual data modeling, process modeling, conceptual modeling of E-business/web-based applications). The concrete objective of IWCMQ'03 is to sketch a field-overlapping state-of-the-art of quality in conceptual modeling, identify possible paths of collaboration, and point out future research directions."

  • AOIS: Agent-Oriented Information Systems. Fifth International Bi-Conference Workshop on Agent-Oriented Information Systems (AOIS-2003). "This bi-conference workshop aims to bring together researchers and practitioners from the Information Systems and Agents communities who will be shaping the future of information systems engineering. Papers will be published as part of the ER2003 Workshop volume by Springer in their LNCS series..."

    Key URLs:

    "Agent-Orientation is emerging as a powerful new paradigm in computing. Concepts and techniques from the agents paradigm could well be the foundations for the next generation of mainstream information systems.

    Information systems have become the backbone of all kinds of organizations today. In almost every sector -- manufacturing, education, health care, government, and businesses large and small-- information systems are relied upon for everyday work, communication, information gathering, and decision-making. Yet the inflexibilities in current technologies and methods have also resulted in poor performance, incompatibilities, and obstacles to change. As many organizations are reinventing themselves to meet the challenges of global competition and e-commerce, there is increasing pressure to develop and deploy new technologies that are flexible, robust, and responsive to rapid and unexpected change.

    Agent concepts hold great promise for responding to the new realities of information systems. They offer higher level abstractions and mechanisms which address issues such as knowledge representation and reasoning, communication, coordination, cooperation among heterogeneous and autonomous parties, perception, commitments, goals, beliefs, intentions, etc. all of which need conceptual modelling. On the one hand, the concrete implementation of these concepts can lead to advanced functionalities, e.g., in inference-based query answering, transaction control, adaptive workflows, brokering and integration of disparate information sources, and automated communication processes. On the other hand, their rich representational capabilities allow more faithful and flexible treatments of complex organizational processes, leading to more effective requirements analysis, and architectural/detailed design. The workshop will focus on how agent concepts and techniques will contribute to meeting information systems needs today and tomorrow.

  • XSDM 2003: Workshop on XML Schema and Data Management. Contact Sanjay Kumar Madria (Department of Computer Science, University of Missouri-Rolla). See the provisional program [source]

    "XML documents are self-describing, and provide a platform independent means to describe data and therefore, can transport data from one platform to another. XML documents can be mapped to one more of the existing data models such as Relational and Object-relational, and XML views can be produced dynamically from the pre-existing data models. XML queries can be mapped to the queries of the underlying models and can use their optimization features. In this context, schema management and discovery, query optimization, data integration and indexing plays important roles. XML data integration is useful for E-commerce applications such as comparison-shopping, which requires further study in the domain of data, schema and query based integration. XML Change management is another important area that has attracted attention in the context of web warehouse. XML has been in use in upcoming areas such as sensor data and biological data management."

    XML has gain lot of attention from database researchers who are actively working in one or more of the emerging XML areas and this workshop is intended to bring together some of these researchers who can share their views under this workshop. We solicits papers with important new insights and experiences of managing XML data. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to: XML schema discovery; XML data integration; Indexing XML data; XML query languages; XML data semantics; Semantic web and XML; Mining of XML data; XML change management; XML views and data mappings; Securing XML data; XML in new domains- sensor and biological data management."

Enlightened Quote of the Day

"XML is hierarchical [because] it is optimized for data interchange... This absolutely gives you a design challenge because the models that you get from your data analysis are graphs rather than trees."

Context: see Michael Kay's posting the XML-DEV list on the topic 'A standard approach to glueing together reusableXML fragments in prose?' --

There was never a single definition of the hierarchical data model. Most writers equated it with the model implemented by the IBM product variously known as IMS or DL/I. Other writers (incorrectly) use the term to embrace the network data model (Codasyl) as well.

I was never a fan of hierarchical databases myself (I worked extensively with Codasyl databases) but the statement that "redundancy cannot be avoided" is quite wrong. I've just been re-reading the relevant chapter from Tsichritzis and Lochovsky's "Data Models" (1982) which has an extensive discussion of the various techniques developed by vendors and users to support m:n relationships without redundancy: the most comprehensive solution being "spanning trees" which allowed multiple hierarchic views over the same data records. And although "foreign keys" were not part of the model, they were widely used in practice at the application level (just as they are in XML). The solutions seem rather ad-hoc (I said I'm not a fan), but it's quite wrong to say that they don't exist.

It would actually do us no harm as a community to relearn some of this stuff. XML is hierarchical for a very good reason: it is optimized for data interchange. Data that is sent from A to B has to be encoded as a sequence of bits, and hierarchies lend themselves well to such serialization. This absolutely gives you a design challenge because the models that you get from your data analysis are graphs rather than trees. We certainly need a much more mature understanding of the methodology of translating between the graph object models that come out of data analysis and the hierarchic representation of these models as XML, and I would love to see something that gives you the ability to get multiple hierarchic XML views over the same network data model.

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