Integrated Use of Rule Engines and Constraint/Linear Solvers

Operational business problems can be defined by a set of decision variables and a set of rules that specify relationships between these variables – see the formal definition. This definition considers a decision as a solution of such a problem, but it doesn’t assume anything about ‘HOW’ how decisions will be produced. It means decisions can be found by applying any rule engine, a DMN engine, a constraint or MIP solver, a custom piece of software written in any programming language, a manually provided expert’s decision, or their various combinations. Continue reading

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Building Decision Models for DMCommunity.org Challenge “Balanced Assignment”

DMCommunity Sep-2018 Challenge “Balanced Assignment” gives an example of a complex business problem with a serious optimization component. This problem deals with the assignment of people to different project groups. Usually, such problems require deep knowledge of optimization techniques. My interest was to build a decision model for this problem and to investigate what can be done by business people and where the involvement of optimization experts is necessary. So, I attempted to use a business-friendly approach to represent and to solve this complex problem. It was not a simple journey, and this article describes what I did successfully and where I failed. Link

A Formal Definition of Operational Business Decision

Dr. Bob Moore in his DMCommunity.org post “What is a ‘Decision’?” considers different definitions of a “Business Decision” and “Business Decision Logic”, which Bob, Ron Ross, and I have recently been discussing in the context of the March DMC Challenge. Below I will share my point of view.

First of all, it’s important to stress that we are talking not about any ‘decision’ but ‘Operational Business Decision’ which provides a solution for an operational business problem. The majority of such problems can be considered as a special case of the classical Constraint Satisfaction Problem (CSP) defined in the famous book by S.Russell and P.Norvig “Artificial Intelligence: a Modern Approach” [5]. So, I simply applied the Russell/Norvig’s definition to our business problem. Continue reading

A New Book “Goal-Oriented Decision Modeling with OpenRules”

In February-2019 I published a new book “Goal-Oriented Decision Modeling with OpenRules” available from Amazon. It explains the goal-oriented approach to business decision modeling introduced by OpenRules in 2018. The book is a practical guide that explains how to create and maintain operational business decision models in a step-by-step easy to understand style. The guide consists of a series of dialog-sessions in which an AUTHOR explains major decision modeling concepts and methods to an inquisitive READER who asks questions and implements the concepts. You will quickly learn how to represent complex decision logic and end up with a deep understanding of practical decision modeling techniques. The book contains only 150 pages, and you may start developing your own decision models after reading first 1-2 chapters.

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Building and Using Domain-Specific Libraries of Decision Models

Our customers frequently build not one but multiple decision models for their business domains like property and casualty insurance, loan origination, medical guidelines, etc. After building several decision models, they already have a quite rich glossary and various decision tables that essentially cover their business domain. So, it gives them a good foundation to build a library of relatively small decision models which can be used to assemble more complex decision models. Sometimes they even add domain-specific decision tables and supporting Java classes. This PDF document uses well-known loan origination problems (described in the Chapter 11 of the DMN specification) to explain how to build and utilize a library of decision models. Link

My New Year Letter to OpenRules Customers

Dear Customers,

I’m Jacob Feldman, the CTO of OpenRules, Inc. I wanted to reach out to wish you a Happy New Year and thank you for your ongoing support of OpenRules. 2018 was a very successful year for OpenRules. We essentially advanced our decision engine to support a new decision modeling approach. We also received the Business Rules Excellence Award. For those of you who have already experienced the latest OpenRules Release 7.0.0, I hope you are seeing the benefits of the work we did during the last few years to improve the OpenRules robustness, reliability and simplicity of use. Continue reading

Which changes we may expect in 2019

I was asked by BPM.com to share my thoughts of what to expect in 2019. Digital Decisioning and DMN will continue to play an essential role in BPM. I can see two major trends in this development:

  1. Simplification. Representation of decision logic within business processes will be de-facto standardized using mainly simple DMN concepts such as decision tables and avoiding complex programming concepts. The simplified approaches such as “Goal-Oriented Decision Modeling” supported by OpenRules will continue to prevail in development of decision models incorporated into real-world business process models.
  2. Addressing Complex Decision Optimization Problems. So far, human decision modelers were forced to describe exactly HOW to find a decision by handling all possible combinations of business factors using business rules with multiple exceptions on top of exceptions. More powerful decision engines will allow decision modelers to concentrate on WHAT instead of HOW and will automatically determine multiple feasible decisions and select the optimal decision.

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Migrating to OpenRules

OpenRules was introduced to general public as an open source product 15 years ago, and over these years it has become one of the most popular business rules and decision management systems. Every day OpenRules helps customers worldwide handle millions of transactions in real-world production environments for large corporations, government agencies, hospitals, and online businesses – see the list of selected customers. In 2018, along with the Business Rules Excellence Award, we received an overwhelming number of requests from organizations wanting to migrate their existing rules-based systems to OpenRules. This growing interest can be explained by this quote from Forrester Research: “OpenRules have the most-aggressive approaches to business-expert authoring and typically requires less developer support than IBM ODM, FICO Blaze Advisor, and Red Hat Drools“.

So, staring January-2019 we are essentially expanding our technical support and consulting services to help our customers move to OpenRules faster and provide them with superior support. On December 31, 2018 we announced new OpenRules Migration Services – click here to learn how they work.

Model-based Optimal Solutions for Flight Rebooking Challenge

During the closing discussion at the DecisionCAMP-2018, I promoted a new “model-based” approach to decision modeling that contrary to the commonly used “method-based” approach allows a human decision modeler to concentrate on “WHAT” instead of “HOW”. This approach gives more power to decision modelers allowing a decision engine to come up not just with one of many possible decisions but to find the optimal decision. I wanted to demonstrate this power using a more complex business problem and to do it before the end of this year. So, I decided to apply the model-based approach to the problem “Rebooking Passengers from Cancelled Flights” that is the most challengeable problem among multiple DMCommunity.org Challenges. Continue reading

Model-based Solutions for Advanced Vacation Days Challenge

I provided two solutions for DMCommunity.org Challenge “Vacation Days Advanced”. So far, all decision models submitted as solutions for the old Jan-2016 Challenge and the new challenge were “method-based” meaning they describe exactly how to assign extra days while avoiding possible conflicts. I tried to apply a new “model-based” approach that concentrates on “what” instead of “how” and finds not just one of many possible solutions but the optimal one.  The first decision model consists of clearly separated two parts: 1) Business Part presented in Excel decision tables; 2) Technical Part presented in Java using the JSR-331 standard. The second decision model is an attempt to present both parts completely in DMN-like decision tables using Excel only (the supporting Java code is hidden in new Excel templates). You may analyze both solutions here. I’d appreciate comments and suggestions for improvement.

“Model-based” vs. “Method-based” Approaches to Decision Modeling

In Aug-2018 Prof. Robert Fourer gave a tutorial “Model-based Optimization“, in which he compares two essentially different approaches to modeling optimization problem: “model-based” vs. “method-based”. He is using a relatively complex “Balanced Assignment” problem to demonstrate his points. While Fourer’s tutorial deals with optimization, I believe the same arguments are directly related to Decision Modeling that so far mainly remains method-based. During DecisionCAMP-2018 we had interesting (and sometimes hot) discussions about these two approaches and in my closing remarks I described the major differences between them as follows: Continue reading

OpenRules Customer is a Winner of the 2018 Business Rules Excellence Awards

On October 16 Business Rules Excellence Awards (BREA) announced the winners of the 2018 Awards. Congratulations to the OpenRules’s customer, a major California bank, who became a winner! Here is the brief from the BREA’s presentation:

After successfully putting a new OpenRules-based system in production, the bank extended the use of OpenRules to another mission-critical application related to risk management. Below you can read the description of this OpenRules success story. Continue reading

Notes from DecisionCAMP-2018

This year DecisionCAMP was held in Luxembourg Sep 17-19 as a part of the Logic for AI Summit. It became an important event that attracted experts and practitioners in the business decision management from 14 countries. We had 54 official registrations and sometimes even more people were present in the auditorium. The representatives from almost all major BR&DM vendors and many well-known experts attended the event. As the chair of the event, I wrote the Notes from DecisionCAMP-2018 published at the DMCommunity.org blog.

By jacobfeldman Posted in Events

OpenRules customer selected as worldwide Awards Finalist

A major California bank, facing looming regulatory deadlines, needed to develop a highly dynamic web application to support the bank’s complex customer account management processes. The integrated use of OpenRules’ s rule and rendering engines became the foundation for the successful and quick implementation. OpenRules nominated this real-world application to the first annual Business Rules Excellence Awards (BREA).  This success story was selected as a worldwide Finalist in the 2018 Business Rules Excellence Awards. This is a significant achievement for the Bank and OpenRules. The announcement of winning entries will take place on October 16.

OpenRules Presentations at DecisionCAMP and LuxLogAI-2018

OpenRules was well presented at the major technical business decision management event DecisionCAMP-2018. Here are the presentations directly related to OpenRules:

I also published a paper “Building and Analyzing Goal-Oriented Decision Models” at the Proceedings of the RuleML+RR 2018 Challenge – it explains our goal-oriented approach to decision modeling using a Credit Card Application decision model. In my closing notes I tried to demonstrate how a smarter decision engine can simplify decision modeling using concrete examples from DMCommunity.org challenges. After considering different decision modeling approaches, we will add these capabilities to standard OpenRules features.

DMCommunity Challenge July-2018 “Zoo, Buses, and Kids”

The July’s challenge “Zoo, Buses, and Kids” deals with a very simple optimization problem:
“300 kids need to travel to the London zoo. The school may rent 40 seats and 30 seats buses for 500£ and 400£. How many buses of each to minimize cost?”
Naturally, a constraint solver nicely and easily solves this and more complex constraint satisfaction problems as shown in Philippe Laborie’s solution. When today I saw  a pure SQL solution provided by Damir Sudarevic, I thought that it’s time to model this problem as a business decision model. It would not be as compact as provided solutions, but it should be oriented to business users.  Continue reading

Decision Automation and Explanations

Prof. Gene Freuder wrote a position paper “Complete Explanations” for The Second Workshop on Progress Towards the Holy Grail that will be held on Aug 27, 2018 during CP 2018 in Lille, France. Gene writes: “As AI becomes more ubiquitous there is a renewed interest in computers being able to provide explanations, and the European GPDR provides special impetus.” Geen’s paper concentrates on constraint satisfaction problems (CSPs), but, as I’d shown in my 2016 paper, we may consider a decision model as a CSP, and everything Gene is talking about directly applies to business decision modeling. Continue reading

Goal-Oriented Decision Modeling with OpenRules-7

The major Release 7.0.0 is making OpenRules even more user-friendly without losing any of the sophistication of already proven decision modeling technology. Our customers don’t have anymore to define an execution sequence of their decision tables in special tables of the type “Decision” – these tables can be automatically generated. Now it is sufficient for a human decision modeler to define only Glossary and Decision Tables that specify business logic for all included goals and subgoals. Then for any selected business goal, OpenRules Engine will execute all related decision tables in an automatically calculated order to determine the goal’s value. You may watch this short video that uses simple examples to explain the goal-oriented approach to decision modeling supported by OpenRules-7. Continue reading

OpenRules will Present and Exhibit at BBC-2018 in November

This year OpenRules, Inc. again will be a sponsor, exhibitor, and a presenter at BBC-2018  that will be held on Nov. 6-9, 2018, JW MARRIOTT SAN ANTONIO HILL COUNTRY RESORT & SPA, SAN ANTONIO, TX. The presentation Replacing Legacy Bank Account Management System Using Business Rules will be presented on Nov. 8 together with our customer, one of the largest CA banks. Continue reading

By jacobfeldman Posted in Events

Keep DMN Simple

People who started decision modeling standardization years ago were all agreed that the DMN standard is supposed to be oriented to subject matter experts, should be simple, friendly enough while powerful to cover the common denominator in operational decision modeling. It was a good start for DMN in 2013 and an enthusiastic acceptance since then. However, today DMN is full of complex, programmer-oriented features which seem to get even more complex in new releases. There are plenty examples of unnecessary complexity being proudly promoted for their “elegance”.  Here are a few examples to compare. Continue reading

Old Decision Model “Credit Card Application” Implemented with New OpenRules-7

The latest June-2018 DMCommunity Challenge”Credit Card Application” gives me a good chance to demonstrate the new upcoming OpenRules Release 7.0.0. I remember that Nick Broom was one of the first who published a real-world decision model right after the DMN introduction. I also remember that at the same day I implemented and published  Nick’s model using only Excel and OpenRules  available at that time (it was release 6.2.6). It would be interesting to compare this old implementation with a new one below that takes advantages of new OpenRules-7. Continue reading

DMCommunity Challenge April-2018 “Up-Selling Rules”

In this post we will provide a response to the DMCommunity.org Apr-2018 Challenge “Up-Selling Rules  that deals with two decision tables: 1) up-selling rules that offer new products to a customer based on the customer profile and the products which the customer already has; 2) customer profiling rules. We will use for the first time the latest OpenRules version (not released yet to public) that removes a need for ordering of multiple decision tables.  Continue reading

Decision Management and Semantic Reasoning

Considering the upcoming conferences, I was asked by Harold Boley to write about a possible integration of Semantic Reasoning and Business Decision Management. Today I posted an article at the RuleML Blog and decided to reproduce it here as well but in a bit more friendly format.
On September-2018 DecisionCAMP and RuleML+RR will be co-located again for the third time during the LuxLogAI-2018 summit in Luxembourg. These two events represent different but closely related fields of the knowledge representation movement: Business Rules & Decisions Management and Semantic Reasoning. In this post I want to talk about relationships between these two fields and events.

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Happy 15th Birthday, OpenRules!

Today is exactly 15 years since OpenRules, Inc. was incorporated on Feb. 24, 2003. It’s a quite serious milestone, so I decided to write a few words for this occasion. A year ago, I described a brief history of our company and key factors that made it successful. 2018 was an extremely successful year for OpenRules as well: we improved the product and many major corporations became our new customers. But in this post I want to look to the future and to share some of our upcoming and long term plans. Continue reading

Introducing DMN to Business Analysts in 15 Minutes

Last year BBC-2017 organizers gave me 20 minutes to introduce DMN to business analysts at the “Technology Theater”, an open space in the Expo hall. Based on the positive feedback from people who attended my presentation, I decided to share it with more people.  You may look at my slides in the PDF format. Below I will describe an example I believe  is very useful to introduce major DMN concepts in 15 minutes. Continue reading

OpenRules Solution for the Christmas Challenge

DMCommunity.org offered a new Dec-2017 Challenge called “Reindeer Ordering“. It has a nice Christmas formulation:
Santa always leaves plans for his elves to determine the order in which the reindeer will pull his sleigh. This year, for the European leg of his journey, his elves are working to the following schedule, which will form a single line of nine reindeer. Here are the rules: Continue reading

OpenRules Release 6.4.3

OpenRules® Release 6.4.3 generates new, more compact execution reports with explanations, adds decision importing to integrate loosely coupled decision models, allows using lists along with arrays and extends various operators on them, enhances date/time manipulations and adds more features requested by customers.  Here is the list of of newly added capabilities: Continue reading

Decision Modeling: LEGO Style

Recently I helped one of our larger customers to build a set of their business decision models. At the end I said that now they can continue to assemble new decision models themselves. Then one of their business analysts said that our decision modeling approach reminds him of LEGO. I believe this is a really good analogy and I will elaborate on it using specific examples.

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Transforming DMN XML to OpenRules

DMN-OpenRulesOpenRules already can read and execute decision models represented in the DML XML format. To test new DMN-to-OpenRules capabilities I decided to implement DMCommunity’s June-2017 Challenge using the DMN Modeling tool from Trisotech that allows non-technical people to create DMN-compliant decision models and import them to the DMN XML format. My objective was to create DMN XML for the Loan Origination problem described in the Section 11 of the DMN specification and then execute this DMN XML using OpenRules. Continue reading

Loosely Coupled Decision Models for Loan Origination

DMCommunity.org June-2017 Challenge is looking for the best decision models that implement a well-known Loan Origination problem described in in the Section 11 of the DMN specification. So, I decided to address this challenge using the core DMN constructs implemented in OpenRules. I will describe my solution in the form of dialog between a fictional READER who is assumed to be a business analyst (not a programmer) and the AUTHOR, who represents myself. It is similar to the dialog-sessions described in my recent book “DMN in Action with OpenRules“. While it may look long it doesn’t omit any implementation detail. Besides serving as a good solution for the Challenge, this document describes a good decision modeling practice for OpenRules customers.
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Presenting at DecisionCAMP and BBC 2017

Soon we will participate in the major annual decision management events:

This year I am the chair of DecisionCAMP and will give a tutorial “Decision Modeling with DMN and OpenRules” at the co-located RuleML+RR on July 12 at 14:00-15:45.

At the BBC-2017 I will present “How Business Analysts Can Build Decision Models with DMN but Without Programming” on Nov 10 at 9:00-10:00. As usual, OpenRules will be a sponsor and an exhibitor – stop at our booth #T8 to see the latest version of OpenRules with “DMN in Action”.

By jacobfeldman Posted in Events

Solving Flight Rebooking Challenge With and Without Programming Constructs

DMCommunity.orgFlightRebookingImage announced its Challenge “Rebooking Passengers from Cancelled Flights” in Oct-2016 and until now 4 different solutions have been submitted. It is a relatively complex use case for decision modeling. In this post I will describe different implementation approaches for this challenge and will discuss good and not so good DMN constructs used to support the underlying decisioning logic. I hope this post will initiate more discussions which may lead to the future DMN improvements by replacing the existing programming constructs to more business-friendly representations. Continue reading

DMN: Iterating Over Arrays Without Explicit Loops

Iteration1I consider myself among the initiators and big supporters of the DMN standard, and I do my best to help bringing the standard to the real-world business decision modeling. Naturally, the current release of DMN includes some constructs with which I strongly disagree but I am trying not to criticize DMN too much as the standard itself is not mature enough yet and I hope it will be gradually improved based on the real-world acceptance. Continue reading

Raymond Smullyan’s Retro-Analysis and Decision Modeling

When I learned that the famous Prof. Raymond Smullyan passed away this February at the age of 97, I felt grateful to the man whose books and puzzles my friends and I enjoyed reading as young programmers many years ago. Later on we shared them with our children. I wanted somehow to mark this event and decided to buy his book “The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes” to read on vacation. Ten days ago I started to read the book during my flight from Newark to Jamaica and… haven’t even noticed as we landed. Continue reading

Happy 14th Birthday, OpenRules!

This week during a conference call with a large potential customer I had shown them our release history. Suddenly I realized that OpenRules just passed its 14th birthday. I remember as we started in 2003 with just a few people and a strong desire to build the best Business Rules Product. And now, 14 years later,  I am glad to share multiple OpenRules success stories at the world largest international corporations and government agencies. In this post I will briefly look back to better understand the factors that contributed to the commercial success we enjoy as a company today. Continue reading

A new book “DMN in Action with OpenRules”

bookcoverprintThis month I published a new book “DMN in Action with OpenRules” at Amazon. This is a practical guide for people who want to understand how to create and maintain business decision models. The guide is based on the DMN standard and OpenRules. It is oriented to business analysts looking to build operational decision models for their own business environment.

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OpenRules Implementation of the Loan Approval Challenge

loanapprovalimageIn Dec-2016 DMCommunity.org published a new Challenge called “Loan Approval“. This challenge actually was proposed by myself based on real-world experience with one of our customers (a large bank). The most important point of this challenge was a general architecture that allows to invoke the same business logic based on real-time events coming from external sources. I described how such architecture may look like at this video that demonstrates a decision engine integrated with a PUB/SUB message broker.

However, the business logic itself also may be interesting especially if implemented using the latest DMN approach. So, I decided to do a new implementation that is described below. Everything is defined in Excel tables with zero Java code. Continue reading

New OpenRules Release 6.4.1 with DMN Why-Analyzer

whybutton“Imagine you had a Why Button handy whenever you encountered some disconnect in day-to-day business operations. Hit the Why Button and presto – answers appear in the form of relevant business rules” – Ron Ross, 2013

The release OpenRules Release 6.4.1 introduces a new add-on called “Why-Analyzer for Decision Modeling” that provides such a Why Button for decision models created in accordance with the DMN standard. Actually it is much more than just a button but rather a graphical interface that allows business analysts to analyze the results produced by their decision models using their own test cases created directly in Excel. See a brief video and try it yourself without any downloads from here. There are several more product improvements described in the release notes. You may download the latest release and try your own decision models with OpenRules Why-Analyzer. Continue reading

Building a Custom Scheduler with OpenRules and JSR-331

One of the largest Japanese telecom company is successfully using OpenRules being integrated with a BPM product produced by our partner Intra-Mart. Last month this customer asked us to help with development of a custom scheduler capable to schedule thousands of cable construction operations subject to various precedence and exclusivity constraints. Continue reading

BBC 2016

dmninactionThis year OpenRules will again be an exhibitor and a presenter at the major Business Rules and Decisions Forum 2016 at BBC conference on Oct 31- Nov 4, 2016, Las Vegas, NV. We are sponsoring this major BR&DM event for 13 years in a row.  Our event theme will be “DMN in Action” as we will show our latest advances supporting the DMN standard. We will also present our newly developed “Why-Analyzer for Decision Modeling“. If you decide to attend BBC-2016 you still may receive a 20% discount when you register using our discount code “OPENRLV1620”. Stop by at our booth T5.