005, Mechanical, and aeronautical and manufacturing engineering
Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing has recently emerged as a new manufacturing technology that allows the rapid creation of three-dimensional models and prototypes. It automates the fabrication of solid objects directly from designs created by CAD systems, without part-specific tooling or human intervention. From visualising designs to generating production tooling, the Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing gives the advantages needed in today's competitive environment. There are many different rapid prototyping systems available. This proliferation of rapid prototyping systems has, to some degree, created some confusion in the market place. Whether the potential customer or user is thinking of using a rapid prototyping bureaux or purchasing a rapid prototyping system, the increasing number of systems coming onto the market and the ever improving capabilities of existing systems presents a significant problem in choosing the optimum system for a particular need. The aim of this project is to develop an intelligent rapid prototyping system selector based on the feature extraction from STL files to automatically select the most suitable rapid prototyping system for a given prototype. The combination of STL model feature extraction and expert system selection is an effective method of rapid prototyping process selection. By analysing the object's STL file, the object's feature representations are extracted. These features together with the user's requirements are used to determine the most suitable system on which to build, or the most suitable system to buy. Mathematical models for computing build time, accuracy, cost and mechanical properties are established. A knowledge-based system is developed for rapid prototyping system selection. An integrated software package for STL file feature extraction, rapid prototyping system simulation and knowledge-based rapid prototyping system selection has been developed.
Software development involving prototyping has been widely written about since the early 1980s. This project has been carried out with the intention of investigating the various claims made about it. The first section of the research examines the background to software development and the emergence of alternative approaches to carrying it out. It considers the options open to developers and then examines the background and application of prototyping. It reviews the published work (including survey evidence) on the management and control of prototyping and the ways that this can be carried out effectively. The second part of the work evaluates the results of a series of studies that have been carried out. These comprise several developments for systems built for a metal finishing company and also the analysis of using function points measurement in the development of a system for a local authority, in each study prototyping was used as part or all of the development,. The final part of the work proposes a model for controlling the prototyping process. The second part is a quantitative investigation in to the effectiveness of prototyping as part of a RAD style development. The report concludes with overall recommendations and scope for further research.
In response to the so-called "software crisis', software prototyping has been widely used as a technique in various stage of systems development since the late 70's, and, with the growing sophistication of 4GLs tools and environments, it has becoming a popular alternative to conventional development approaches. A study of the literature revealed that, unlike tools and environments, the management and control of software prototyping practice has been widely reported as being problematic. The study also suggested that there were very few reported studies of prototyping projects in practice. In order to contribute to the understanding of the management and control of prototyping, it was therefore decided to conduct an empirical study. The empirical investigation comprises three interrelated stages: preliminary survey, field modelling and semi structured interviews. The findings of each stage provided inputs and formed a base for the following stage. From the survey to practitioners it became apparent that the concerns of the literature, regarding the management and control of prototyping projects, were justified. The next stage involved a detailed study using process modelling techniques of ten prototyping projects at eight software development organisations. This was then followed up by semi structured interviews of managers and prototypers at five organisations. In addition a number of documents, minutes and standards were also analysed, and personality tests conducted. The main lessons learnt include the 'process diversity', the inadequate methods and standards, and lack of quality control, particularly in regard to future maintainability and extensibility. Recommendations are given for each key management and control area identified, including team selection, initial requirement gathering, prototypes building, change requests and quality controls. Finally the thesis concludes that further work should be extended to areas such as developing 'lean methods' and an easy to use toolset for better management and control of the process.
005, Geographical, GIS, Software life-cycle, and Hypertext
This thesis investigates information systems development with special regard to the area of Geographical Information Systems. It addresses the area through the investigation of the software life-cycle development model and its augmentation by the use of prototyping. Observations are made on empirical experiments conducted to assess the usefulness of the new techniques of hypertext and hypermedia and their suitability within this field of study. This investigation is complemented by a case study, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Authority. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are designated by statute with similar status to the National Parks of Great Britain, and are managed by the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Authority. Through cooperation with the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Authority, a prototype information system was created. This system makes use of geographical data from the Broads Authority. The development stages of this system were used to conduct experiments for this thesis. The tools and techniques used for the development of this system are described. These include a hypertext tool called FIELD (Fully Integrated Environment for Layered Development) which has been especially designed for the complete storage of all information for each stage throughout this development. The use of this tool and hypertext for the development of the geographically based information system for the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Authority are discussed.
005 and Question-answering systems : Interactive computer systems
With ever cheaper and more powerful technology. the proliferation of computer systems, and higher expectations of their users, the user interface is now seen as a crucial part of any interactive system. As the designers and users of interactive software have found, though, it can be both difficult and costly to create good interactive software. It is therefore appropriate to look at ways of "engineering" the interface as well as the application. which we choose to do by using the software engineering techniques of specification and prototyping. Formally specifying the user interface allows the designer to reason about its properties in the light of the many guidelines on the subject. Early availability of prototypes of the user interface allows the designer to experiment with alternative options and to elicit feedback from potential users. This thesis presents tools and techniques (collectively called SPI) for specifying and prototyping the dialogues between an interactive system and its users. They are based on a formal specification and rapid prototyping method and notation called me too. and were originally designed as an extension to me too. They have also been implemented under UNIX*. thus enabling a transition from the formal specification to its implementation. *UNIX is a trademark of AT&T Bell Laboratories.
005 and QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
New interactive computing applications are continually being developed in a bid to support people's changing work and recreational activities. As research focuses on one particular class of interactive systems, high level models of interaction are formulated and requirements emerge that reflect shared features or common functionality among those systems. The existence of models of interaction and shared functional requirements mean that support tools can be created which ease the subsequent development of these systems. Support tools most often take the form of architectures or frameworks that describe how a system should be structured. The type of tool that interactive systems developers are most familiar with is a library of reusable code that can be used for prototyping and building interactive applications and their interfaces. Within this thesis a new class of interactive system is identified, based on shared requirements for detection, processing and presentation of human physiological information. We have named these systems electrophysiologically interactive computer systems (EPICS) and describe in this thesis both the physiological and technological details behind their operation. A review is presented of existing research and development into this exciting new area of human-computer interaction, the aim being to establish the common requirements. These have enabled us to develop a suite of software components to support the creation of future EPIC systems. It is envisaged that the work presented in this thesis will serve as a jumping off point for others interested in exploring the potential of incorporating physiological information into the human-machine relationship.
The aim of the present work was to investigate the development of improved software tools for management consultants, and to investigate the effectiveness of augmented user-centred methods in this development, and thereby consider the more general use of augmented user-centred methods to develop software tools that support creative human activity systems. The research method used draws from and integrates aspects of user-centred design, soft systems methods, structured systems analysis and design, and software engineering. This includes using user literature, 'thinking aloud' role play observations, and interviews to develop a user model of the management consultancy process; using literature of related disciplines (qualitative data analysis and social network analysis), literature of existing computer assisted management consultant software tools, and formative iterative prototyping, empirical user testing and heuristic evaluation to synthesise a general design rationale of software tools for management consultants; and using empirical user testing and a subjective user acceptability interview to holistically evaluate the impact of the use of such software tools on the management consultancy process. The results provide evidence that the use of such software tools will provide significant benefits to management consultants, and that the overall impact can be summarised by delayed payback: although the use of the software draws out the early stages of an assignment it speeds up later stages, and although it may take a couple of assignments to realise its ftill potential, it leads to a deeper and more rigorous understanding of the client organisation. This leads to an original contribution to knowledge in the conclusions that integrated qualitative data analysis and social network analysis software tools can be useful to management consultants, and user-centred methods are important in the development of software tools for creative human activity systems.
Our modern information society has produced many sophisticated requirements for the development of information systems. A new challenge is the study of hybrid information systems that combine traditional information systems with knowledge-based systems. This new generation information system is considerably more powerful than a simple extrapolation of existing system concepts. It is easy to imagine the advantages of powerful knowledge-based systems with efficient access to several large databases, and of large traditional information systems with added intelligence. Due to the complex nature of hybrid information systems, it is umealistic to expect that they can be developed using one standard method. The use of several independently developed methods has a number of drawbacks, such as inconsistency, redundancy, amount of effort required and possible loss of information. In an attempt to provide at least a partial solution to this problem. this thesis describes a new integrated methodology for developing hybrid information systems. This methodology combines the method for developing traditional information systems with the method for developing knowledge-based systems. The new methodology provides a hybrid lifecycle process model to combine the conventional waterfall process with rapid prototyping and model-based approaches. The proposed methodology integrates four eXlstmg methods using two integration approaches: intra-process and inter-process. In the requirements analysis phase. a structured method is applied to function analysis, an information modelling method is applied to data analysis, and a knowledge acquisition method is applied to knowledge analysis. An intraprocess approach is then used to integrate these techniques using consistency rules. In the design phase. the new methodology uses an inter-process approach to transform requirements analysis to object-oriented design by a transformation algorithm. Finally, an object-oriented method is applied to the design and implementation of hybrid information systems. Using the new methodology, a hybrid medical information system for dizziness (HMISD) was developed, which combines components of traditional medical information systems with components of medical expert systems. The construction and development of this software are described in detail. The system can support activities in hospitals including registration, diagnosis, investigations, drug management and clinical research. It provides assistance to hospital doctors and general practitioners. The performance of HMISD is evaluated by testing ninety three real patient cases and taking two investigations from medical staff and patients. The evaluation results show that HMISD is of good quality and that most of its users are satisfied. Three approaches are used to evaluate the proposed methodology: analysis of the development of HMISD, comparison with existing methodologies using CMD and expert evaluations. The evaluation conclusions indicate that this new integrated methodology can take advantage of the four existing methods and also remove some of the limitations of each individual method. It is applicable to the development of traditional information systems, knowledge-based systems, and large and complex hybrid information systems.