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Content archived on 2024-04-16

Planning of Non-Specific Transportation by an Intelligent Fleet Expert

Objective

PONTIFEX is developing an object-oriented decision-support framework for handling routing and scheduling problems, along with specific case studies in aircraft rotation and scheduling and the physical distribution domain. The integration of advanced operations research algorithms, knowledge representation methods and user interface management techniques is providing an innovative approach to this class of problems.
Representing the full complexity of routing and scheduling problems by means of mathematical models with algorithmic solutions is sometimes impossible. In these cases a routing and scheduling problem is best tackled by a decision support system (DSS). Planning of nonspecific transportation by an intelligent fleet expert (PONTIFEX) is a knowledge based DSS that integrates artificial intelligence (AI) with operations research (OR) functions, tailored for applications in the field of fleet scheduling. It can be used by people with little or no experience of OR.

The planning of nonspecific transportation by an intelligent fleet expert (PONTIFEX) project developed an object oriented decision support framework for handling routing and scheduling problems, along with specific case studies in aircraft rotation and scheduling and the physical distribution domain. The integration of advanced operations research algorithms, knowledge representation methods and user interface management techniques provided an innovative approach to this class of problems.

Several prototype applications have been built with the aim of focusing on real user requirements, testing different technical approaches and software architectures, and identifying the most suitable development/deployment environment. These developments have resulted in a flexible application model that clearly separates a reusable skeleton, or framework, from specific domain knowledge and algorithms.

As part of the framework, mechanisms for handling data consistency, encapsulating software modules, and specialized user interface objects have been developed. The tools set of modules includes innovative methods for solving temporal constraint satisfaction problems, as well as clustering and routing algorithms.

The PONTIFEX software runs on Unix workstations under the Motif graphical interface, and is written in Prolog and C. The following major deliverables are bein completed:
a general application framework, the Pontifex Application Framework (PAF), that includes domain independent services for building user interfaces, managing data consistency, and controlling the logic flow of execution;
a number of self contained domain oriented software modules (each module tackles 1 particular subproblem in the application area);
2 different applications, obtained by assembling the PAF and subsets of the above modules, for use in aircraft scheduling at Alitalia and Iberia.

Topic(s)

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Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

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Coordinator

Nixdorf Computer
EU contribution
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Address
Via Piranesi 46
20137 Milano
Italy

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Total cost
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Participants (10)