Generalized hypertext in a knowledge-based decision support system shell environment

Michael Paul Bieber, University of Pennsylvania


We are developing a decision support system (DSS) shell serving DSS applications in a broad range of fields, such as finance, engineering and manufacturing. The shell uses a hypertext-style, direct manipulation interface for structuring and presenting information. To overcome the manual, static nature traditionally associated with hypertext, we developed generalized hypertext, an extension of "standard" hypertext to a dynamic, knowledge-based environment. We view hypertext as system-level functionality, and available to all shell applications. Generalized hypertext automates the creation and manipulation of hypertext entities (nodes, links, markers indicating the presence of links, etc.). It is a logic-based approach that dynamically "maps" the elements of a given DSS application knowledge base (models, data values, reports, etc.) to hypertext entities. Hypertext browsing--traversing links from one node to another--normally invokes a DSS application-specific operation. For example, when a user selects a model execution result and chooses an "explanation" link to traverse, the DSS will generate the explanation dynamically and the hypertext engine will format it as a hypertext-style document.^ In developing generalized hypertext, we had to solve three of the outstanding hypertext research issues identified by Halasz--managing virtual hypertext entities, performing computation over a hypertext network during link traversal, and tailoring the hypertext network, e.g., to specific users and tasks. To do this we had to generalize the hypertext entities and hypertext link traversal for mapping arbitrary applications and their knowledge base components virtually, hence our name generalized hypertext.^ We begin by motivating the ideas of a DSS shell with a hypertext-style interface, showing why this requires automated hypertext functionality. We then describe generalized hypertext, formally model it using logic, evaluate this model, and contrast it with a logic model of "standard" hypertext. Next we demonstrate the concepts of generalized hypertext in prototype implementation that is used by the U.S. Coast Guard. We close by discussing a range of future research issues that include developing customized local task environments and ensuring that the automated functionality of generalized hypertext is incorporated in industry-wide hypertext standards. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, General|Information Science|Artificial Intelligence|Computer Science

Recommended Citation

Bieber, Michael Paul, "Generalized hypertext in a knowledge-based decision support system shell environment" (1990). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9112535.