Faculty Award for Joint Publication with the Universities of Seville and St. Gallen

Ulm University

Irene Barba, Andrés Jiménez-Ramírez, Carmelo Del Valle (all University of Seville), Barbara Weber (University of St. Gallen), and Manfred Reichert (University of Ulm) are delighted. Their joint publication on flexible runtime support for business processes under rolling planning horizons, which was recently published in the renowned AI journal Expert Systems with Applications (Impact Factor in 2022: 8.665), was selected by the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Seville as one of the top 3 faculty publications of 2021. Finally, the article was selected as the second-best paper of the year.  The partners of the three universities have been working closely together in the field of Business Process Management for years and are pleased about this further award for their scientific work.

Irene Barba, Andrés Jiménez-Ramírez, Manfred Reichert, Carmelo Del Valle, and Barbara Weber: Flexible runtime support of business processes under rolling planning horizons. Expert Syst. Appl. 177: 114857 (2021) (Link to ScienceDirect)


This work has been motivated by the needs we discovered when analyzing real-world processes from the healthcare domain that have revealed high flexibility demands and complex temporal constraints. When trying to model these processes with existing languages, we learned that none of the latter was able to fully address these needs. This motivated us to design TConDec-R, a declarative process modeling language enabling the specification of complex temporal constraints. Enacting business processes based on declarative process models, however, introduces a high complexity due to the required optimization of objective functions, the handling of various temporal constraints, the concurrent execution of multiple process instances, the management of cross-instance constraints, and complex resource allocations. Consequently, advanced user support through optimized schedules is required when executing the instances of such models. In previous work, we suggested a method for generating an optimized enactment plan for a given set of process instances created from a TConDec-R model. However, this approach was not applicable to scenarios with uncertain demands in which the enactment of newly created process instances starts continuously over time, as in the considered healthcare scenarios. Here, the process instances to be planned within a specific timeframe cannot be considered in isolation from the ones planned for future timeframes. To be able to support such scenarios, this article significantly extends our previous work by generating optimized enactment plans under a rolling planning horizon. We evaluate the approach by applying it to a particularly challenging healthcare process scenario, i.e., the diagnostic procedures required for treating patients with ovarian carcinoma in a Woman Hospital. The application of the approach to this sophisticated scenario allows avoiding constraint violations and effectively managing shared resources, which contributes to reduce the length of patient stays in the hospital.

AI journal Expert Systems with Applications