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GRACeFUL Report Summary

Project ID: 640954
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.2.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GRACeFUL (Global systems Rapid Assessment tools through Constraint FUnctional Languages)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2017-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

GRACeFUL lays a base for Rapid Assessment Tools (RAT), active DSS for collective policy making in global systems. RATs improve the policy-making process where multiple stakeholders are involved in multi-disciplinary, global challenges. A paradigm will be designed, adapting the discipline of Group Model Building (GMB).
In GMB sessions RATs will provide support for interaction between the human process and existing scientific evidence. Digested evidence, like facts and knowledge about the real-world, is used to rapidly assess the effects of actions and the extent to which they solve a problem.
RATs will employ solvers to propagate the effects of stakeholders’ targets, interests and constraints. The bridge between the social interaction and the underlying body of knowledge will be achieved through modelling with a novel domain-specific language (DSL) of policy concept maps. Embedding this DSL into a programming language combining Functional Programming and Constraint Programming is a major breakthrough. The FP perspective empowers embedded DSL construction and improves scalability, verifiability and correctness of the models, while the CP approach introduces goal-directed problem-solving.
Management, understanding and modelling of complex systems will be streamlined and opened up to diverse groups of stakeholders, hence promoting collective awareness. Although we use a selected problem case, Climate Resilient Urban Design (CRUD), the approach is entirely generic, in view of future innovation opportunities.
The project aims at the following objectives:

(1) To establish a novel collective policy-making paradigm in which experts and stakeholders can participate in face-to-face problem-solving sessions. The framework will lie at the junction between GMB, simulation and problem solving.
(2) To carry out scientific work to bridge physical and mathematical models with high-level narratives. This will be achieved through the construction of a DSL for system dynamics models on top of a language that combines CP and FP and provides multi-scale solver models. Major work will be carried out in the study of ways to compose constraints and heuristics into higher-level language constructs.
(3) To design a visual layer for supporting the application of (1) coupled to the DSL from (2). This will include modes for visualizing spatial/temporal data, and manipulating cascading concept charts, causal loop diagrams, flow diagrams and constraint models. Interactivity will employ gamification to enhance user engagement.
(4) To enable the building of RATs supporting (1), using (2) and (3). This will be materialized in the form of DSL programming guidelines and a library of language constructs representing concepts common to many global challenges.
(5) To apply (4) in practice in the construction of a prototype for solving a specific real-world case of CRUD.
(6) To assess usability and user experiences of (5) and dissemination of results.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

A major challenge in Y1 was to get common problem understanding and to make the consortium speak a common language. For this, CRUD and its state-of-the-art was analysed and made common ground. A big student GMB event was organized. Key requirements for RATs were synthesized, mostly in the form of ontologies for CRUD and GRACeFUL Concept Maps.
In Y2 the common the knowledge ground allowed a better focus for the task dealing with the stakeholder GMB paradigm. Again student GMB events were organized. The practical sessions provided useful insights to planning support tools and their use and evaluation in participatory CRUD processes. Research on value elicitation methods in the context of applying GMB to CRUD extends the s.o.t.a. in the field.
In Y1 WP4 focused on applying the s.o.t.a. in DSLs to CRUD and formalizing its concepts in Haskell. In WP5 a 1st version of the Haskell-embedded DSL for CFP was implemented. Additional work was done on time-series constraints and qualitative spatial and temporal constraints. In Y2 the a DSL for GCMs was implemented, including its formal semantics. In WP5 work continued on the CFP DSL in particular to its MiniZinc backend. The work on constraints composition focused on the combinatorial aspects of time-series constraints and was made available in MiniZinc. Checkers for the above constraints were synthesized. Focused on CRUD a constraint model for CLDs from GMB sessions was developed based on Qualitative Probabilistic Networks. Some work was done on optimally combining actions subject to stakeholder criteria.
In WP3 the VA/EDA reqs. and specs. were synthesized, based on the CRUD analysis. VA research focused on temporal dynamics of complex situations based on State Transition Graphs and multivariate time series.
In Y2 the focus of effort shifted from VA towards visual model building for concept maps and CLDs. Work started on a prototype implementation, but organizational issues at one of the sites caused some delay. However, from the DSL side, the interface of the generic library of concepts to the visual layer was defined and implemented. MSc thesis work was realized on the conceptual design of tool support for collective problem solving. It covers interactivity, usability and gamification aspects.
Based on D4.1/D5.1 and the ontologies, the DSL for concept maps set a starting point for the construction of a growing library of generic building blocks representing concepts and relations for modelling CRUD. For the purpose of software development a toy set of blocks was defined. The library is dynamic and will be further populated with easily-definable elements.
Regular communication was set up with Dordrecht’s StadsLab initiative. Dubbeldam was selected as a first case study location. Specific stakeholders were identified, though for the GMB sessions a more general setup was preferred using students. A first toy model was developed to streamline software development. For the sake of generic applicability the case was complemented with input from talks with CRUD practitioners in other cities.
The website was set up ( and Twitter @GRACeFULProject) as well as the Dissemination plan. In Y2 the Newsletter was published. Cross-dissemination talks were held with related projects. A dedicated dissemination tracker was developed to compile inputs of the partners. A validation plan was developed for testing tools through student workshops, expert groups and interviews. Work in preparation of the usability assessment was done in a MSc thesis on the design of the participatory problem-solving tool, from the viewpoint of a conceptual designer, with emphasis on usability criteria.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The CRUD RAT Key Requirements constituted a step beyond the s.o.t.a, in a conceptual/prospective way, as they defined a generic GRACeFUL Concept Map structure applicable to other studies, and contained a CRUD ontology which starts specifically from actions. The research on value elicitation methods in the context of applying GMB methodology to CRUD is also considered progress beyond the s.o.t.a.
The research on Visual Analytics of temporal dynamics based on State Transition Graphs and multivariate time series also constitutes progress beyond the s.o.t.a. All of the work published in the scientific WP4 and WP5 are to be considered progress beyond the s.o.t.a. So far there were 17 publications.
Work done in WP6 is specifically about impact promotion. The information on impact in the DoA is still valid.

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