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DecisionML Working Group Charter (Draft)

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The mission of the proposed DecisionML Working Group, is to define a core decision format representing decision-related information on the web. The decision format will enable users to represent and manage decisions and decision process information across web applications.

Join the DecisionML Working Group.

End Date 15 July 2012
Confidentiality Proceedings are public
Initial Chairs Jeff Waters, Don McGarry, Eva Blomqvist
Initiating Team Contact (FTE: 25%)
Usual Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: Weekly Face-to-face: Three Annually

1.0 Scope

The Working Group is to specify a format for representing decisions, so they can be used across diverse systems. Because of the great variety of applications and decision technologies, this format will focus on the generic, core components of decisions and decision-making information.

This mission is part of W3C's larger goal of enabling the sharing of information in forms suited to machine processing, as seen in several application areas:

Decisions as an information source. Decisions themselves represent a valuable form of information for which there is not yet a standard interchange format. For instance, decisions provide a powerful business knowledge representation, as business decisions, in many modern information systems.

Decisions as a means of communicating. Decisions could be the representation of choice for communicating status between information systems.

Decision-making and sharing as a Semantic Web use case. As part of the Semantic Web architecture, decisions can provide a broad, important and useful representation for demonstrating the significance of and empowering the application of the OWL Web Ontology Language and the Linked Open Data initiative.

The work performed by this Working Group is designed to help organizations improve integration of human decisions into computer systems, to digitally track and manage the decision-making process, to enable improved information-flow metrics, to maintain an archive of the decisions and the decision-making process, to enable semi-automation of certain decision-making processes, to improve information sharing, and ultimately, to support better, rapid, and agile decision making.

1.1 Usage Scenarios

To help motivate and clarify the scope of this working group, here are five example scenarios, each illustrating a kind of application which should be supported by the decision exchange infrastructure provided by this work.

Selecting Among Alternatives

Sarah is trying to select a city to visit on her vacation. She has a limited time and budget and a specific geographic region she is planning to visit. She has access to a variety of web resources describing the cities, their amenities, museums and schedules. Many of these resources are available as Linked Open Data so she knows she can browse and query the datasets through various Semantic Web applications, but she'd like to organize her decision and decision-making process.

Sarah therefore uses a web interface to help her make the decision. First, she starts a new decision process, specifying the title, the question she is trying to answer, and candidate datasets that might support her decision are presented for her consideration. She reviews the properties describing each of the cities and she selects key properties that she wants to use as her metrics for rating the cities, and specifies any maximum or minimum values. The cities are now filtered to remove any that are outside of her range of values and are ordered based on her weighted metrics.

Sarah can now select from the choices presented. Her decision, including the question, answer, options she considered, and metrics she used can now be saved, archived, and displayed on her calendar, timeline, maps, and shared with her friends on her social networks.

Sarah knows her friend Mark recently took a similar trip and she wonders how Mark decided where to visit. Mark has shared his decision, so Sarah can download Mark's metrics and apply them to her decision and see how the specific cities are ranked according to his metrics.

Capturing Expertise

Sue is an expert in her domain with 25 years of experience. Sue is a valuable resource for her organization and her community. She is consulted on a variety of matters and her judgment and assessments are highly valued. Fortunately, her decisions and methods of decision-making are represented in a standardized format which allows those decisions and their components to be archived, searched, reused, and managed on the web. Distributed domain knowledge in the form of existing ontologies and linked data, which provide the context for her decisions, can seamlessly be referenced, represented, and support inferencing in her decisions. Others can review her decision process, how long she spent in certain states of the decision process, what options she considered, what metrics she utilized and how she weighted those metrics. Subdecisions are noted, including times, dates, contributors, and information resources. Her metrics for certain types of decisions, as well as other decision components, can be reused by others.

Although Sue will eventually retire, an important portion of her expertise has been captured for the benefit of her organization and community. Additionally, Sue herself will have a record for her own uses and memoirs. Sue also has control over this information, meaning that she can set different access restrictions on parts of her decision information. For instance, her closest co-workers might have access to all the information regarding how she made the decision, while others in the company can only review the actual decision result.

Collaborative Decisions

Soraya is the chair of a working group at a standards organization. She remembers that when she participated in previous working groups, it was difficult for those, other than long-time participants, to understand the issues and their resolution. During the course of email and telecon discussions over a period of months, her working group participants would make many key decisions that impact the form of the final product. It was difficult for non-participants to understand what were the issues, the options, the pros, the cons, and why certain decisions were made. In fact, many users of the eventual standards misused certain components unintentionally because they did not have the background for why the components were created and what questions they were intended to address. Although the discussions would be contained in threaded discussions and meeting minutes, these are difficult to follow in a cohesive manner and it takes significant time to search and track. Even the formal documentation captures only some of the issues and guidance, and few people have time to read the documentation.

Fortunately, Soraya's group now has the ability to capture the decisions, the questions, the options, the pros/cons, the metrics during the meetings and discussions utilizing tools that support the standard decision format. The decisions can be linked, viewed, mapped, and the resolution method noted, along with any dissenting opinions. The decisions are accessible on the web for easy graphical viewing with drill-down, and in a collaborative manner, working group participants can add or comment on components, including adding a new option, comment on a new metric, add a pro or con, suggest a better weighting of the metrics, recommend a subdecision that needs to be made, and collaboratively the decision and decision-making process can be documented and managed. New participants can now quickly get up to speed and since components can be linked to questions, anyone using a component can gain key insights from the original developers of the standard.

Historical Decisions

Adam is a historian focusing on reviewing and considering the decisions made by key leaders of organizations which preceded a man-made disaster. A variety of options were available to each leader as they proceeded. Certain options which should have been considered were not, due to the limitations put on the consideration of what constituted acceptable options. Metrics were used which were not publicly noted. Many decisions were made and the sequence and combination of the decisions led to the disaster. The historian is able to document each decision, the sequence of these decisions, and the resulting combined assessment in a machine-understandable format. The historian is able to link the decision topic and terms to domain knowledge about the incident. This allows the historian to represent these decisions in a machine-understandable format so that the tools for viewing, mapping, searching, and managing decisions can be used to benefit this historical research and share with other researchers. One of these tools is a web-based decision analysis tool that can take current decisions (made, in the making or yet-to-be made) and discover and retrieve similar historical decisions for comparison and education. Other tools allow reasoning on options to make predictions on decision outcomes, based on the decision representation that is grounded in formal semantics.

Emergency Management

A fire at a chemical plant has released a harmful chemical that is now forming a plume which will move over a portion of the city. Emergency managers are instigating evacuation plans and an important decision is to select among the proposed evacuation routes based on the current conditions. The routes should be evaluated based on length, capacity, simplicity of directions, amount of exposure, and certain other criteria. Fortunately, as part of the planning, the decision has already been stored in a machine-understandable format that can be retrieved and all relevant authorities notified that the evacuation route decision is being considered, including details on the options and metrics for evaluating the options. One of the agencies responsible for infrastructure notes that a key overpass is closed due to a repair and updates the options from a remote location.

Civilians and rescue workers that are moving through the disaster area are using their mobile phones to enter information about the situation in their location. For instance, they can add the position of an injured person on a map, or information about broken and unusable structures. This information is then available as Linked Open Data so decisions based on this information can be processed immediately, with the weighted metrics allowing for the rapid assessment of evacuation routes. Within moments, the best of the pre-planned evacuation routes is recommended and a decision made.

In each case, conventional decision technology is enhanced not only by the usual economies of standardization, but also by the ability to exchange and merge decision data from different sources.

1.2 Success Criteria

  • Development of a set of requirements and competency questions to determine the scope of the decision format and to test the fulfillment of the requirements and coverage of the ontologies.
  • Production of stable documents addressing the work items listed in the Deliverables section.
  • Availability of at least two implementations of tools utilizing the decision format and ontologies developed by the Group.

1.3 In-Scope

The group will primarily consider ways to represent information about decisions and decision-making processes, including:

  • Developing use cases and requirements for representing decision information
  • Developing ontologies or ontology components as representations of decisions and decision-making
  • Encouraging the instrumentation of appropriate tools with the ontology components and representations to explore effectiveness
  • Enabling the decision format to be modular and extensible, in the sense that it should be possible to use it for very simple use cases without much overhead, but it should also be possible to add more complex “modules” so that the same format is extended into a highly expressive format that can be used for representing complex decisions.
  • Provide a primary normative syntax of the language in an XML syntax.

1.4 Out-of-Scope

  • Areas of importance to, but not directly a substantive component of, generic decisions or decision processes are out of scope, such as transport protocol, encryption, and authentication.
  • Representing the actual procedures for automating decision-making, although having decisions formally represented may as a side effect allow for automatic inferencing over them, e.g. through filtering of options with respect to metrics.

2.0 Deliverables

W3C Technical Reports

  • A W3C Working Group Note for use cases and requirements for the Decision format
  • A W3C Recommendation describing a simple format for representing Decisions and Decision-related information.
  • A W3C Recommendation providing a set of small ontologies of decision concepts suitable for supporting and representing this decision format in combination with RDF/OWL and Linked Open Datasets.

Other Deliverables

  • Implementation and interoperability reports.
  • Tutorial or primer resources (if suitable and if resources are available).


Specification FPWD LC CR PR Rec
Decision Use Cases and Requirements July 2011 October 2011
Decision Representation 1.0 August 2011 December 2011 March 2012 June 2012 July 2012
Decision Representation 1.0 with RDF/OWL and Linked Open Data August 2011 December 2011 March 2012 June 2012 July 2012

3.0 Dependencies

3.1 W3C Groups

All of the semantic working groups are doing important work which this working group should take into consideration; for example, the group will reach out to liaison with:

3.2 External Groups

In the area of decisions for emergency management, the group will reach out to and liaison with:

4.0 Participation

To be successful, the DecisionML Working Group is expected to have 10 or more active participants for its duration. Effective participation in the DecisionML Working Group is expected to consume one-half work day per week for each participant; one day per week for editors.

It is envisioned that this group will teleconference weekly at a time that provides an adequate compromise over the various time zones of the interested participants. Extensive work will be carried out by using preferably the wiki but also with the mailing list. Additionally, it may be useful to have three annual face-to-face meetings at a venue for which a significant number of participants are likely to attend.

Expected participation follows the W3C Process Document discussion of Good Standing.

5.0 Communication

This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list public-xg-decision@w3.org (archive). The group's Member-only list is member-xg-decision@w3.org (archive)

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the Decisions and Decision-Making Working Group home page

6.0 Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

  • When deciding a substantive technical issue, the Chair may put a question before the group. The Chair must only do so during a group meeting, and at least two-thirds of participants in Good Standing must be in attendance. When the Chair conducts a formal vote to reach a decision on a substantive technical issue, eligible voters may vote on a proposal one of three ways: for a proposal, against a proposal, or abstain. For the proposal to pass there must be more votes for the proposal than against. In case of a tie, the Chair will decide the outcome of the proposal.
  • This charter is written in accordance with Section 3.4, Votes of the W3C Process Document and includes no voting procedures beyond what the Process Document requires.

7.0 Patent Policy

This Working Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on the topic addressed by this charter. W3C reminds Working Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.

Working Groups have as a goal to produce work that can be implemented on a Royalty Free basis, as defined in the W3C Patent Policy.

Participants agree to offer patent licenses according to the W3C Royalty-Free licensing requirements described in Section 5 of the W3C Patent Policy for any portions of the XG Reports produced by this XG that are subsequently incorporated into a W3C Recommendation produced by a Working Group which is chartered to take the XG Report as an input. This licensing commitment may not be revoked but may be modified through the Exclusion process defined in Section 4 of the Patent Policy.

Participants in this Working Group wishing to exclude essential patent claims from the licensing commitment must join the Working Group created to work on the XG Report and follow the normal exclusion procedures defined by the Patent Policy. The W3C Team is responsible for notifying all Participants in this Working Group in the event that a new Working Group is proposed to develop a Recommendation that takes the XG Report as an input.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

8.0 About this Charter

This charter for the DecisionML Working Group has been created according to the Working Group Procedures documentation. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.