Winner of the RuleML Challenge for the second year running

The RuleML Initiative brings together delegates from Academia and Industry who have a shared interest in Web rules. This is a wide-ranging initiative, and is a natural forum for the Digital Ecosystems Group’s work on business modelling for the Web using the OMG’s Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR). Last week, Alexandros Marinos travelled to the 2011 RuleML symposium to present his latest work with Prof. Paul Krause and Pagan Gazzard.

This work generated a high level of excitement, with Alexandros’ presentation on and associated demonstration of a syntax directed editor for SBVR winning the RuleML Challenge; the second successive year in which we have done this. It was also featured in the closing talk as one of the seven highlights of the Symposium. The award is voted on by the audience, and although the field was stronger this year, the response from the audience was better too. This fully featured editor solves a usability issue that has been impacting on the uptake of SBVR. But Alexandros stole the show with an “and one last thing” moment reminiscent of the late Steve Jobs – as he was closing his demonstration, he said, “Oh, and you can use this right now, within your browser”. This was immediately followed by a clatter of keystrokes from the audience as they all logged into the website and started building example models in SBVR. Although a simple thing to say, being fully web-based and requiring no installation was technically one of the toughest challenges, and its success is a strong reflection of Pagan’s programming skills.

Key researchers from IBM and Stanford were keen to find out more about the tool, and there were also approaches from Red Hat and Vulcan Inc to explore the possibility of integrating our tool with their work. Talking to Benjamin Grosof from Vulcan was particularly interesting to us, as Vulcan’s SILK is a meeting point for logic programming tools, one of which is Cyc, the latest manifestation of Doug Lenat’s big vision of capturing Large Knowledge in a way that facilitates mechanical inference. Working with SILK means our editor could become an interface for Cyc. Exciting times indeed!