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A cascading ruleset registry as a method to allow extension of rule-based decision engine rulesets.

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000220058D
Publication Date: 2012-Jul-19

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Software rules based decision engines allow for the evaluation of complex business decisions based on a set of parameters sampled from the environment, evaluated by a decision process. The decision engine can select a course of action from several alternatives defined within a decision process based on the result of an evaluation of a given contingency against a decision table. A decision process can contain multiple alternatives and multiple decision tables. The various artifacts created to support this (essentially a rule set) can be packaged in some way, for example as an archive or a binary file, and imported into the rules based decision engine for evaluation. Once packaged, these rule sets often need to be customized - however, it is often the case that such customization is impossible without access to the "source" of the rule set. The cascading rules registry described here enables such customization. It defines the concept of base rule sets, which are provided with an application, and extension rule sets. The cascading rules registry maintains several extension rule sets in a defined hierarchy and defines a process for evaluating decisions using any available extensions. It introduces the concept of "abstention" from the processing of the rules. In the event that all extensions "abstain" from decision making, the decision of the base rule set is returned.

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A cascading ruleset registry as a method to allow extension of rule -based decision engine rulesets.

Problem Statement

    Software rules based decision engines allow for the evaluation of complex business decisions based on a set of parameters sampled from the environment, evaluated by a decision process. Any given combination of parameters is from hereon referred to as a contingency.

    The decision engine can select a course of action from several alternatives defined within a decision process based on the result of an evaluation of a given contingency against a decision table - a table of all possible contingencies and the action to be taken for each. A decision process can contain multiple alternatives and multiple decision tables. Figure 1 contains a visualisation of a simple decision process with alternatives and decision tables.

Figure 1 - Simple decision process with branches and decision tables.

    The combination of the definition of a contingency, the decision process and decision tables (from hereon referred to as a rule set) can be packaged in some way, for example as an archive or a binary file, and imported into the rules based decision engine for evaluation.

    There exist requirements on the applications built using the above rule based decision engines to be able to customise how a decision for any number of anticipated or unanticipated contingencies is made by customising the decision process alternatives and the outcomes determined by decision tables.

Known Solutions


A) Modification of Existing Rule Sets

    The known solution to the above requirements, which this invention addresses, is the editing of and addition to the provided rule set.

An example scenario below outlines the known solution.

An application developer creates a rule set that defines how a certain

business decision is to be evaluated programmatically by software. As part of an extension or customisation of the original software an application customiser is


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required to change the resultant decision for several contingencies and to add several new contingencies for emergent business decisions and/or business process changes.

    The application customiser must copy (referred to from hereon as branching), open and make editable the original rule set, perform their edits and additions, repackage the rule set as rule set1 and re-import the rule set. In Figure 2, marker A highlights this creation of ruleset1.

Figure 2 - Life cycle of multiple customisations of a simple rule set

    As part of application maintenance, application upgrade or consumer customisation an application maintainer is required to further change how the resulting decision for several contingencies is evaluated.The application maintainer must branch, open and make editable rule set1, perform their edits and additions,repackage the rule set as rule set2and ensure the new rule set is imported into the rules based decision engine.In Figure 2, marker B highlights this creation of rule set2.

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