“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

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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

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

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

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

Developing Custom Decision Modeling Languages with Enhanced DMN

The modern Business Rules and Decision Management Systems help users to move business logic from a code to business rules controlled by subject matter experts (not developers).  In particular, the latest Decision Model and Notation (DMN) standard [1] defines powerful and broadly applicable concepts for decision modeling that allowed experts [2] to call DMN a “decision modeling language”. DMN even includes a friendly enough expression language, FEEL, to express complex relationships between different decision variables. However, DMN is a general purpose “decision modeling language” that naturally stays away from domain-specific decision modeling constructs. In this article I will discuss how to enhance DMN to support specialized decision modeling languages. Continue reading

DMN Interchange

The DMN 1.1 standard includes a new interchange format that soon will become public. Meanwhile, DMCommunity Apr-2016 Challenge provides a very simple xml-file for the decision model “Vacation Days” created by Bruce Silver.  Ideally, DM vendors may take this file (and much more complex DMN XML files), transform it to their own format, and execute using their own tools. While vendors are not in a hurry to support DMN XML yet, this weekend I decided to give it a try. Below I will describe the results. Continue reading

OpenRules at BBC 2016

This year OpenRules will again be an exhibitor at the 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. I’ve just received a confirmation that my presentation“Why” and “What-If” Buttons for Business Decision Management” has been accepted. Here is an abstract: Continue reading

Decision Models: Finding Alternative and Optimal Decisions

People frequently assume that a good, consistent decision model should produce one and only one decision (solution) for any valid input. However, in real-world applications we frequently deal with situations when a decision model may produce multiple feasible solutions for the same input. And it does not mean that the decision model is incomplete – simply a user may choose the most appropriate solution among all produced decisions. It can be done interactively or by adding more rules. I’ve already provided an example “Monkey Business Analyzed” that describes how to deal with multiple decisions using OpenRules What-If Analyzer.  In this post I will describe another  decision model that also shows how to choose an optimal decision among multiple feasible decisions. Continue reading

“Monkey Business” Analyzed

I decided to add the decision model “Monkey Business” to our new What-If Analyzer. It brought several considerations missed by other solutions. In this post I will discuss my implementation and will show how What-If Analyzer helps to do a through analysis of usually unnoticed aspects of business decision modeling. Continue reading

bpmNEXT 2016

This year OpenRules will participate in the bpmNEXT 2016 that will take place at Santa Barbara, CA on April 19-21, 2016. This is a very selective conference that does not allow marketing and forces the presenters to do only live demonstrations of specific achievements that have a chance to shape the next generation of Business Process Management software – including intelligent operations, the Internet of Things, case management, business decision management, and goal-directed processes. I will present “Dynamic Decision Models: Activation/Deactivation of Business Rules in Real ­Time” on Apr. 21 at 14:00. Continue reading

OpenRules 6.3.4 Introduces What-If Analyzer of Decision Models

On December 28, 2015 we published a new OpenRules release 6.3.4 that introduces What-If Analyzer, the first tool of this type in the Decision Management domain. Its main purpose is to support what-if analysis of decision models built in accordance with the DMN standard. What-if analysis is the process of changing the business rules that represent business logic to see how those changes will affect the outcome of the decision model. Here is the main view of the What-If Analyzer for the decision model “Make a Good Burger” offered by the DMCommunity.org: Continue reading

Predictive Analytics is Becoming Mainstream

“Big Data” have brought “Predictive Analytics” (long-time available but hidden in the academic world under the names “Machine Learning” and “Data Mining”) to the spotlight of the modern Business Analytics. These days you will find many examples when analytics enables business decisions by supporting a path from data to decisions and actions. Below I will briefly talk about nowadays positioning of the Business Analytics and more about OpenRules own experience in this area including OpenRules Rule Learner. Continue reading

Don’t Program a System, Educate It!

Modern decision management techniques enable business decisions by supporting a path from data to decisions and actions. Wherever people use stand-alone Business Rules, Complex Event Processing, Predictive Analytics, Optimization systems or their combinations, they prefer to put in charge subject matter experts and not software developers.  Actually, all these systems tend to be declarative and allow customers to feed their systems with externally maintained business knowledge, e.g. historical data and/or already known business rules. Nowadays people in a way want to educate a general purpose system with their domain-specific knowledge avoiding traditional programming. Continue reading

Learning Business Rules from Data at RuleML-2014

This year RuleML-2014 will be held in Prague on Aug 18-20. For the first time it will include a special track called “Learning Business Rules from Data”.  As a member of the organizing committee, I posted the proper announcement here. It promises to become a very interesting event when the decision management practitioners meet their academic partners. Continue reading

Can a Decision Model Define Uniqueness of Objects inside a Collection?

This question was asked by Antonio Plais – see the LinkedIn discussion. Several practical variations of this question were mentioned: 1) Define if the same product appears more than once in the same sales order; 2) determine the uniqueness of records in a file to be loaded into a Data Warehouse.  Obviously, the question deals with business rules defined on collections of objects – not the most popular topic among decision modelers. Continue reading

Another DMN Decision Model (executable!)

Today Nick Broom published his own example of a decision model based on his understanding of the current version of the DMN standard. Nick is a business analyst and a well-known decision management practitioner, so his interpretation is very valuable as the standard is oriented to the business analysts (not to programmers). Nick’s example is supposed to make a decision whether an applicant is eligible or ineligible to a credit card. Nick described a simple credit card application process and designed decision requirements diagrams and related decision tables.

Starting to read his post, I decided that it could be helpful to make Nick’s decision model executable and to test if it actually produces the expected results. It took me several hours to do it using mainly Excel and the latest version of OpenRules BDMS.   Continue reading

Solving Rule Conflicts – Part 2

“The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”, Francisco Goya

 Defeasible Logic and Business Rules with Probabilities

Modern rules and decisions management systems provide effective mechanisms for development of good decision models. However, building real-world decision models people always face complex issues related to diagnostic and resolution of rule conflicts. Some systems can effectively verify decision model consistency and diagnose rule conflicts. But there are no practically used Business Rules (BR) products that claim that they may automatically resolve rule conflicts.

In the Part 1 of this series I described how end users can represent their rules in single-hit and multi-hit decision tables while avoiding rule conflicts. But is it possible to automatically resolve rule conflicts? I will discuss this problem below. Continue reading

Solving Rule Conflicts – Part 1

Representing Contradictory Rules with Single-Hit and Multi-Hit Decision Tables

Modern rules and decisions management systems provide effective mechanisms for development of good decision models. However, building real-world decision models people always face complex issues related to diagnostic and resolution of rule conflicts. Some systems can effectively verify decision model consistency and diagnose rule conflicts. But there are no practically used Business Rules products that claim that they may automatically resolve rule conflicts (at least I am not aware of them).  As a result, it becomes a responsibility of users to represent rules in such a way that allows them to avoid conflicts. Continue reading

Combining Constraint Solving with Business Rules and Machine Learning – CoCoMiLe 2013

The integration of different decision making techniques finally is finding its home under the roof of the Decision Management movement. I am glad that an integrated Constraint Programming (CP), Business Rules (BR), and Machine Learning (ML) approach is gaining in popularity as well. An interesting workshop “CoCoMiLe 2013 – Continue reading

How to compact large decision tables

A well-known problem with decision tables is that they frequently become too big and too difficult to manage.  It is also well-known that OpenRules utilizes Excel-based decision tables as its major representation mechanism for business rules.  So, I decided to share some methods used by our customers to make large decision tables more compact. Continue reading

Deploying OpenRules Applications on Cloud

A week ago at JavaOne Conference in San Francisco I had a chance to talk directly with several providers of cloud deployment solutions for Java applications. I was really impressed with a Ukrainian startup “Jelastic” that just won the Java Community’s version of Oscar and was endorsed by Dr. Gosling – read more here. Coming back home to NJ, I decided to try it myself. I took the existing web application that implements a popular game “Nim” using OpenRules decision tables and forms. It looks as follows:

Previously this web application was deployed at the local Tomcat, and I wanted to move it to the Jelastic’s cloud with minimal efforts.  And I had almost no problems of doing that! Now you may try to play Nim yourself from the cloud using this URL http://openrules.jelastic.servint.net/Nim/. What have I actually done?

Continue reading