IJCAI-01 Workshop on Configuration
in conjunction with the Seventeenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-2001)

Monday,  August 6, 2001, Seattle, Washington, USA

News: The papers are now available on-line



The configuration task can be defined as designing a product individual using a set of pre-defined component types while taking into account a set of well-defined restrictions on how the component types can be combined. It can be supported by computer programs, configurators, using AI techniques such as constraint satisfaction, its extensions, description logics, logic programs, rule-based systems and different specialized problem solving methods.

Configuration has recently attracted a lot of research and industrial interest. The research interest is witnessed by the AAAI 1996 Fall Symposium on Configuration, the WRKP-96 Workshop on Knowledge Representation and Configuration Problems (in conjunction with KI-96 in Germany), the 1998 special issues of the journals AIEDAM and IEEE Intelligent Systems and Their Applications, the AAAI'99 Workshop on Configuration and the ECAI 2000 Configuration Workshop.

The industrial interest is indicated by the increasing number of configurator vendors. The importance of configuration has expanded as more companies use configurators to efficiently customize their products for individual customers. Combined with e-business solutions they have a high market impact and generate new business opportunities in many industries for new products and new ways to interact with customers.

However, efficient development and maintenance of configurators require sophisticated software development techniques. AI methods, more than ever, are central to the development of powerful configuration tools and extending the functionality of configurators. The research topics collected at the ECAI 2000 workshop from the industry are included in the list of topics for the workshop and indicate that there are still significant open research problems. Configuration problems, like planning problems, can be seen on one hand as an interesting test-bed for novel AI techniques. On the other hand, configuration problems can serve as generators of new research problems.

This workshop continues the series of workshops started at the AAAI 1996 Fall Symposium and continued at the AAAI'99 Workshop and the ECAI 2000 Workshop. The last two very successful workshops had each more than 40 participants representing both academia and the major configurator vendors.

The goals of this IJCAI workshop on configuration are to promote high-quality research in configuration and strengthen the interaction between industry and research. The workshop is intended for researchers and product developers interested in this area and more generally in the application of AI techniques on real problems and the research fostered by it. Submissions are sought from the researchers and developers working with the wide range of applicable AI technologies that complement each other.

The workshop will be a one day event. Accepted submissions are organized as panels according to topics with short introductory presentations by panel members, allowing ample time for discussion to stimulate a workshop-like event.


We invite submissions describing novel and previously unpublished research (possibly in progress) or experiences with AI in configuration-related areas, including but not limited to:

Configuration problems and models: classification of configuration problems; visual/fuzzy/... configuration knowledge representation and acquisition; debugging and validation of configuration knowledge bases; configurable software products; reconfiguration problems; soft constraints, optimality and optimization in configuration; spatial, layout and 3D configuration.

Methods for configuration: efficient problem solving methods and reasoning techniques for configuration; complexity of configuration tasks; generating explanations and restoring consistency; interactive or collaborative configuration and man-machine interaction; symmetry breaking.

Configurators and configurator utilization: problem solving methods and efficiency of implemented configurators; long term management of configuration knowledge; relation of configuration to software configuration management, product data management and other product knowledge and models.

Configuration and product design: modeling/using configuration knowledge and configurators in the design/development process; relations between configuration and design - design for configurability; utilization of configurators with PDM and CAD systems.

Configuration and production management: configuration for sales, engineering, planning, scheduling, manufacturing, assembly, installation; utilization of configurators with ERP software and scheduling; integration of configurators with internet and e-business.

We hope to attract a balance of

In addition, we solicit papers containing a description of a (set of) configuration problem instance(s) together with a longer complete description. The longer descriptions will later be made available on a web-site in order to build up a benchmark test base for configuration systems.

Attendance and Submission Information

All workshop participants must register to the IJCAI-2001 conference, which also handles the practical arrangements such as workshop registration, location etc. Participation will be by invitation only, and will be limited to 40 participants.

If you wish to participate, submit either a full paper of no more than 6 pages (or 6000 words), or a position statement, a short paper, or a problem instance (at most 3 pages or 3000 words). Short papers may address an important problem for further research or describe a practical problem or an interesting lesson learned. In addition, we solicit proposals for short demonstrations (at most 3 pages or 3000 words, and software demonstrations taking at most 15 minutes), emphasizing the original contribution, functionality or conceptual foundation of the system.

If a short paper describes a problem instance, it can do this using natural language or any suitable formalism, in addition to giving details such as the source and domain (e.g. computer, car or telecommunications industry, possibly name of the company and product) of the problem, the possible system(s) used for solving it, performance data for the system(s), general characteristics such as the potential search space vs. the number of correct configurations or suitable configurations with respect to some requirements, and modeling method specific characteristics such as number of variables and the sizes of their domains for a CSP representation. However, the authors are strongly encouraged to formulate their descriptions based on the generally used concepts: components, attributes, ports and connections, resources, and functions (features) such as described in e.g. the following:

Gruber T., Olsen G.R and Runkel J.T. The configuration design ontologies and the VT elevator domain theory. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 44:569-98. 1996.

Soininen T., Tiihonen J., Männistö T. and Sulonen R. Towards a General Ontology of Configuration. AI EDAM, 12(4):357-72. 1998.

Felfernig A., Friedrich G.E. and Jannach D. UML As Domain Specific Language for the Construction of Knowledge Based Configuration Systems. In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering SEKE99. 1999.

If necessary to preserve confidential information, you may rename the elements of the problem description to meaningless symbols to hide their origin and omit the names of the company and product. The problem instances should also be accompanied with a longer, possibly more detailed description file of the problem. The longer description should contain the same information as the shorter version in addition to giving a more detailed model and comments on the meaning and relation between different parts of model to make it accessible to other researchers willing to try their system on it. These descriptions will be made available on the web in the form of a benchmark test set for configurators, and by submitting such a problem description the authors give permission to publish it on the web.

The submissions should follow the IJCAI-2001 style guide (when it becomes available) and guidelines pertaining to blind reviewing. Electronic submission to timo.soininen@hut.fi in both postscript and PDF format is preferred, i.e. submit two distinct pieces, one containing the paper without author identification, the other containing the title page with author identification, and both in both PS and  PDF formats, altogether four files. Otherwise, send three hard copies of your paper and the title page to the contact address given below, to arrive at the submission deadline. No tracking numbers or declarations on submissions to other forums are needed.

Each submission is blind refereed by at least two members of the program committee. Refereeing criteria are relevance to workshop topics, significance and novelty of the research, technical content, discussion on relation to previous work and clarity of presentation. A contribution submitted as a long paper may be accepted as a short paper, if the program committee considers it to be inadequate for a long paper but to present an important issue.

Guidelines for Final Submission

The camera-ready version of the paper must follow the IJCAI-2001 style and formatting guidelines. The maximal length is 7 pages for a long paper and 4 pages for a short paper. The paper must be submitted in electronic form as both a PDF and a PS file to timo.soininen@hut.fi to arrive at the camera ready version deadline, April 22, 2001. The paper must be formatted and the file prepared to fit a 8 1/2 by 11 paper. Please include in the email the names of the authors that will participate in the workshop, the name of the author that will give the presentation, and an Audio Visual Request Form if you have special needs for your presentation.

In the preparation of the PDF and PS files, please follow these instructions:

1. Use the IJCAI style and formatting guidelines. LaTEX files are available from the conference Web page: http://ijcai.org/data/ijcai01.sty and http://ijcai.org/data/named.bst.
2. Once your paper is finalized, use your formatting software to make a PostScript and and Adobe Acrobat PDF file for the entire paper. If you use Acrobat Distiller to make a PDF file from your PostScript file, be sure to select the press option of Distiller. For both PostScript or PDF files, you must embed all fonts you use in your file (especially any math fonts, special symbol fonts, or fonts you have created or customized yourself). Do not compress or zip your file in any way. Please print and proofread your paper in its electronic form prior to submission.
3. Use the last name of the first author as the filename, followed by the extension ‘.ps’ for a PostScript file and ‘.pdf’ for a PDF file.
4. Send the file as a mime- or uuencoded attachment to timo.soininen@hut.fi, with the title "IJCAI-01 WS on Configuration CRC: [last name of the first author]".

Also, please register for the workshop as soon as possible (early registration DL is June 1) in order to let the IJCAI organizers know the number of workshop participants.

Possibility of publishing the workshop proceedings or the best submissions in  a series or special issue is being investigated.

Important Dates

Call for Papers issued: November 15, 2000
Submission deadline: March 6, 2001
Papers distributed to reviewers by: March 10, 2001
Reviews due: March 20, 2001
Notification of acceptance: March 28, 2001
Camera-ready version deadline: April 22, 2001
Early registration deadline: June 1, 2001
Late registration deadline: July 2, 2001
Workshop: August 6, 2001

Organizing Committee

Chair and contact person: Timo Soininen, Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Software Business and Engineering Institute, P.O. Box 9600, FIN-02015 HUT, Finland. Fax: +358-9-451 4958. E-mail: Timo.Soininen@hut.fi.
Michel Aldanondo, Ecole des Mines d'Albi Carmaux, France
Gerhard Friedrich, University Klagenfurt, Austria
Eugene Freuder, University of New Hampshire, USA
Deborah McGuinness, Stanford University, USA
Markus Stumptner, Technische Universität Wien, Austria

Program Committee

Michel Aldanondo, Ecole des Mines d'Albi Carmaux, France
Jørgen Andersen, BAAN, Denmark
Eric Bensana, ONERA, France
David Brown, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA
Hans-Jürgen Bürckert, DFKI, Germany
Esther Gelle, ABB Corporate Research Ltd., Switzerland
Boi Faltings, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland
Helen Fargier, IRIT UPS, France
David Franke, Trilogy, USA
Felix Frayman, Calico Commerce, Inc., USA
Gerhard Friedrich, University Klagenfurt, Austria
Eugene Freuder, University of New Hampshire, USA.
Albert Haag, SAP AG, Germany
Daniel Mailharro, ILOG S.A., France
Deborah McGuinness, Stanford University, USA
Sanjay Mittal, Selectica, USA
Werner Nutt, Heriot-Watt University, UK
Klas Orsvärn, Tacton AB, Sweden
Timo Soininen, Helsinki University of Technology, Finland
Markus Stumptner, Technische Universität Wien, Austria
Reijo Sulonen, Helsinki University of Technology, Finland