On January 8, 2010 after the notorious “underwear bomber” attack Tom Davenport wrote:
“How easy is it to connect the dots? Granted, there were numerous indications of Abdul Mutallab’s evil intent. But it would have been difficult to put them together before the flight. Combining disparate pieces of information about people – whether they are customers or terrorists – is akin to solving a complex jigsaw puzzle.“
In Nov-2010 at the RulesFest-2010 I introduced a simple yet practical inference framework for the creation and continuing development of various “connecting the dots” systems. This experimental framework has been developed within OpenRules environment incorporated into a pub-sub infrastructure. At the heart of the framework is an “always running” inference engine that can accept new facts; propagate them through the existing knowledge base; solicit new facts if necessary; and, finally, reach a conclusion by connecting all the facts together. The framework does not invent a new “magic” technology but rather integrates well-proven techniques and expert knowledge in an ingenious manner.
These techniques include: a message broker with a pub/sub mechanism, a time manager, rule engines, finite state machines, multiple event channels and such optional components as a CEP engine and a questionnaire builder. A key feature of this framework is its ability to quickly incorporate new event types and new facts along with the supporting state machines and processing rules into a perpetually running system. More importantly, all these operations could be done in whole or in part by subject matter experts directly in Excel with only a limited need for participation by programmers.
The framework was demonstrated using a complex loan origination scenario where new facts about a loan become known as a loan request moves through the loan approval process. Here is a complete presentation for your comments and suggestions: