Date of Graduation

12-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer Science (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Computer Science & Computer Engineering

Advisor

Craig W. Thompson

Committee Member

John Gauch

Second Committee Member

Nilanjan Banerjee

Abstract

Our lives are filled with routine activities that we do more or less on auto-pilot such as driving to work and cooking. This thesis explores a workflow representation as a way to represent such activities of daily living. The domain of a retail store environment is used. Workflows are initially expressed in a structured English representation, then translated into a Petri net notation and implemented in mix of Petri nets, Lua, and C so that the resulting workflows can be displayed as the actions of collections of avatarbots (avatars controlled by programs) in a 3D virtual world, Second Life. One aim of the thesis is to explore a range of retail workflows to begin to understand the range of mundane workflows at least in one area of daily living, shopping. We observe that, at a leaf level, our workflows consist of observable behaviors (implemented by action verbs like chatting, face and body animations, and actions like go to, pick up, and carry). These workflows are brittle and exception handling is needed to handle common "bugs" in a workflow. A second aim is to add metrics to our workflows so that similar workflows can be compared with different initial conditions, e.g., when a store‟s floor layout is varied causing some avatars (representing customers) to walk farther and pass by more goods than other avatars (representing clerks). We conclude that representation of workflow scenarios in a virtual world platform can be helpful in illustrating, analyzing, and improving a real life environment, such as a retail store.

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