In the March 2011 issue of "Expert Systems - The Journal of Knowledge Engineering", authors Olivier L. Georgeon, Alain Mille, Thierry Bellet, Benoit Mathern, Frank E. Ritter present a paper on "Supporting activity modelling from activity traces". The authors used expert systems (artificial intelligence) technology to construct a trace of activity found in some context, for example, car-driving behaviours. Activity trace analysis is a technique sometime used in qualitative research studies, and as, such, the authors conducted a search to see if similar technology had been applied previously. They found that "HyperRESEARCH appears to be the only qualitative data analysis tool that supports the validation of hypothetic theories through rulebased expert system techniques (Hesse-Biber et al., 2001). We find HyperRESEARCH's underlying principles for theory building very similar to ours."The paper's abstract states "We present a new method and tool for activity modelling through qualitative sequential data analysis. In particular, we address the question of constructing a symbolic abstract representation of an activity from an activity trace. We use knowledge engineering techniques to help the analyst build an ontology of the activity, that is, a set of symbols and hierarchical semantics that supports the construction of activity models. The ontology construction is pragmatic, evolutionist and driven by the analyst in accordance with their modelling goals and their research questions. Our tool helps the analyst define transformation rules to process the raw trace into abstract traces based on the ontology. The analyst visualizes the abstract traces and iteratively tests the ontology, the transformation rules and the visualization format to confirm the models of activity. With this tool and this method, we found innovative ways to represent a car-driving activity at different levels of abstraction from activity traces collected from an instrumented vehicle. As examples, we report two new strategies of lane changing on motorways that we have found and modelled with this approach."
The article can be accessed online here.