Project WIP

The project WIP (Knowledge-Based Presentation of Information) was started in 1989 under grant ITW 8901 8 for a period of nearly five years. WIP aimed at the development of a presentation system that is able to generate a variety of multimedia documents from an input consisting of a formal description of the communicative intent of a planned presentation. In the implemented system, the generation process is controlled by a set of generation parameters such as target group, presentation objective, resource limitations, and target language.

WIP has been designed for interfacing with heterogeneous back-end systems such as expert systems, tutoring systems, intelligent control panels, on-line documentation and help systems, which supply the presentation system with the necessary input. Since WIP's internal processing schemes are independent of any particular back-end system it requires only a limited effort to adapt the system to a new application. In order to validate WIP's transportability the system was tested in three different application domains (generating illustrated explanations and instructions on using an espresso machine, assembling a lawn-mower, and maintaining a modem). Starting from the original espresso-machine domain we did not have to change a single line of code in going to the two new domains. Only the declarative knowledge sources coded in RAT (Representation of Actions in Terminological Logics), the lexicon and the geometric information are different. While for each domain the application knowledge and the wireframe model are fixed, the presentation goal and the generation parameters can be varied. The benefit of the WIP system lies in its ability to present the same information in a variety of ways depending on the generation parameters. Thus WIP allows for tailoring presentations for individual users in particular communicative situations.

One of the important insights we gained from building the WIP system is that it is actually possible to extend and adapt many of the fundamental concepts developed to date in AI and computational linguistics for the generation of natural language in such a way that they become useful for the generation of graphics and text-picture combinations as well. This means that an interesting methodological transfer from the area of natural language processing to a much broader computational model of multimedia communication seems possible. In particular, semantic and pragmatic concepts like coherence, speech acts, anaphora, and rhetorical relations take on an extended meaning in the context of text-picture combinations. For a more detailed description of this approach we refer to the paper by Andre and Rist [AR90] (see list of publications).

The project team was divided into three subgroups for presentation planning (PP), language generation (TAG-GEN) and knowledge representation (KR). The presentation planning group focused on problems of context-directed selection of contents, automated graphics design, coordination of text and graphics (Dr. Elisabeth Andre and Thomas Rist), and constraint-based layout (Winfried Graf). The language generation group worked on the incremental and parallel generation of text using lexicalized tree-adjoining grammars with feature unification (Dr. Karin Harbusch, Anne Kilger and Wolfgang Finkler). The knowledge representation group extended the expressiveness of the terminological logic used in WIP with regard to the representation of temporal relations, action structures, default values and exceptions (Prof. Dr. Bernhard Nebel, Prof. Dr. Jochen Heinsohn and Hans Juergen Profitlich).

In November 1995, the WIP/PPP team was awarded the ITEA'95 Finalist Price for excellence in converting results from information technology research to innovative products for the marketplace.