Blog of Joos Buijs

About personal things, process mining and the rest in life.

Posts Tagged ‘Master Project

Wanted: Beta testers for XESame

with 2 comments

So, finally, the day is approaching that my baby gets the “1.0” label. But, before I dare to put it out there, I would like to have it tested, and not only by me.

So, what (/who) is XESame?
XESame started as XESma during my Master’s project. The goal of XESame is to extract event logs from data sources. The input format can be database tables, text files or even XML files. The output is an eventlog in the XES or MXML format.
A good slogan for XESame would be: “Opens the cave of process mining wonders”, but that would be a bit bragging.

Err, sounds great but then what?
This event log can be used in ProM to apply process mining analysis (which is sometimes called ‘magic‘ (Dutch article), it also produces very colorful and nice pictures…). More about ProM and process mining can be found at processmining.org.

But why do you want to test it now?
In September 2010, at the BPM’10 conference in New York, the ProM 6 framework will be officially released. Included in this framework is XESame. The next few days and weeks ProM 6 will be tested (internally) for the release. Since XESame will be released for the first time and I’m the only one working on it, I would really like some thorough testing and feedback.

Okay, so, how can I help?
Well, you can do several things, depending on what you like to do and how much time you can/will spend. First of all, I would suggest that you download XESame and try to extract an event log from data you have available. Then report back to me if XESame was useful and why (not).
XESame uses JDBC to connect to the data source. Since I can not test XESame on ‘all’ data source types out there, I’m interested in how it works on different types of data sources (e.g. different databases such as MySQL, Oracle, MS SQL, etc.)
Furthermore, if you encounter any errors, please let me know so I can try to fix them.
I’m also very interested in what features are missing and how XESame can provide better guidance in defining an extraction of event log data.

But I already looked at XESMa, do you need my help?
Well, yes, for two reasons: First, what did you think of XESMa when you tried it? Second: the graphical user interface of XESame is completely different from the (rudimentary and bloated) interface of XESMa. So I always need (and will appreciate) your help.

Okay, so how do I get started?
Good question (and I’m glad that you want to get started).

First of all, you need to download XESame of course and run it. Go to the ProM 6 BPM’10 release page and download the latest version of the framework and XESame. This should be under the section ‘Download’ or otherwise ‘History’.
For Windows users there is an xesame.exe file that you can start. For Mac/Linux/… users start the MainFrame class in the org.processminning.mapper.ui package from xesame.jar.
If you didn’t try XESame or XESMa before, it might be a good idea to read my Master’s thesis (PDF, 8Mb), especially chapters 5 and 6 with all the examples. (Not in any way suggesting that chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 are not interesting to read of course.) Although the thesis talks about XESMa a lot, everything should also be applicable for XESame.
And if you’re really interested, look at the XESame source code via http://prom.win.tue.nl:8000/Tracsites/browser/public/XESame/src/org/processmining/mapper or point your SVN client to svn://prom.win.tue.nl/public/XESame (you can use “anonymous/anonymous” for anonymous access, although you cannot commit of course).

Once you’re done fiddling around or when you encounter a serious error or bug or get stuck, contact me and I’ll try to help you. The best way to contact me is to go to my employee page and see if you want to come by my office, give me a call or send me an e-mail (or contact me through Office Communicator on my tue mail address).
Unfortunately, I’m only human so on occasion I might be at the restroom, having lunch or even on holiday (from August 9 until (and including) 20).

So, even if you don’t plan to click on any of the above links, I would like to thank you for reading this post. I hope to hear from you soon and until next time,

Update 28-7-2010 16:50 (CET): I forgot to mention that the ‘official home’ of XESame is http://prom.win.tue.nl/research/wiki/xesame/start (I was too exited…).

Joos

P.S. huge disclaimer follows:
Please note that the author, the department or the university can not be held responsible for any damage caused by direct or indirect usage of XESame (or XESMa). It is recommended that XESame will only be provided read access to the data source and that you run XESame on a copy of the data an not on (the only instance of) the original data source. And of course, XESame is not extensively tested (yet) so it might do strange things to you or your computer. But rest assure, me and my computer survived all months of development.

Advertisements

Written by Joos Buijs

July 27, 2010 at 11:30

The Results of my Master Project

with 2 comments

Update 26-05-2010: The official XESame (or XESMa) website is now located at processmining.org! This post will not be updated further.

So, after 7 months my master project is completed and the results are final!

Last Monday I gave my final presentation (.pptx, 1.7 MB). This presentation gives a good introduction into the problem and topic of my project.

More detailed information about what I did can be found in my master_thesis (.pdf, 9.8 MB). This should also be used as a temporary ‘user guide’ for my application.

Warning: This is a prototype! No support or guarantee is given whatsoever! Use at your own risk!

If you want to test/play with the prototype I created, it can be downloaded at the link below. However, use it at your own risk πŸ˜‰

XESMa Application Prototype (v 1.0) (.zip, 3.4 MB)

How to start XESMa in 3 steps:

  1. Extract the contents of the zip file;
  2. In Eclipse (or any Java editor), create a new Java Project from the folder you just extracted;
  3. Execute ‘Application.java’ in the org.processmining.mapper.ui package.

Warning: This is a prototype! No support or guarantee is given whatsoever! Use at your own risk!

Now that everything is finished I will enjoy a holiday until May 3. Then I’ll start on a PhD position, here at the TU/e, more about this in another blog post.

I hope I have/get the time to continue to work on XESMa in the future. I have some ideas for improvement. And of course, your feedback is very much appreciated!

Thesis abstract:

Information systems are taking a prominent place in today’s business process execution. Since most
systems are complex, enterprise-wide systems, very few users, if any, have a clear and complete
view of the overall process. In the area of process mining several techniques have been developed to
reverse engineer information about a process from a recording of its execution. To apply process
mining analysis on process-aware information systems, an event log is required. An event log
contains information about cases and the events that are executed on them.
Although many systems produce event logs, most systems use their own event log format.
Furthermore, the information contained in these event logs is not always suitable for process
mining. However, since much data is stored in the data storage of the information system, it is
often possible to reconstruct an event log that can be used for process mining. Extracting this
information from the business data is a time consuming task and requires domain knowledge. The
domain knowledge required to de ne the conversion is most likely held by people from business,
e.g. business analysts, since they know or investigate the business processes and their integration
with technology. In most cases business analysts have no or limited programming knowledge.
Currently there is no tool available that supports the extraction of an event log from a data source
that doesn’t require programming.
This thesis discusses important aspects to consider when de ning a conversion to an event log.
The decisions made in the conversion de nition in
uence the process mining results to a large
extend. De ning a correct conversion for the speci c process mining project at hand is therefore
crucial for the success of the project. A framework to store aspects of such a conversion is also
developed in this thesis. In this framework the extraction of traces and events as well as their
attributes can be de ned. An application prototype, called `XES Mapper’ or `XESMa’, that uses
this conversion framework is build.
The XES Mapper application guides the de nition of a conversion. The conversion can be
de ned without the need to program. The application can also execute the conversion on the data
source, producing an event log in the MXML or XES event log format. This enables a business
analyst to de ne and execute the conversion on their own. The application has been tested with
two case studies. This has shown that many di erent data source structures can be accessed and
converted.

Keywords: data conversion, database, event log, process mining, process-aware information
system

Edit 01-04-2010 11:50: added XESMa execution steps

Written by Joos Buijs

March 31, 2010 at 15:17

Master Project Update: the end is approaching

with one comment

Hi all!

Well, the title says it all, the end of my master’s project is in sight!

The application is ‘nearly done’, there are so many things that could be improved but… well, there is not much time. So, let’s say that the application is at the beta stage then. Yesterday I tried to use it on a real data source instead of my toy database of only 10 records. The results were promising and today I’m processing some of the things we encountered yesterday. For instance the parsing of dates into a Java Date instance is problematic. The format of the date is not always the same and automatically detecting the format used is nearly impossible. Therefore the user (/you) can now define the format used to represent the date and time.

Another type of problem we encountered was related to the ODBC driver but that I can not fix… Other improvements are related to me trying to be too smart (which of course turns out wrong). And some performance issues (but these might be related to the ODBC driver used). And of course a lot of small improvements to the user interface can/should be made etc. So much to do, so little time πŸ™‚

Early this week I also ‘finished’ the visualization of the conversion. The idea is to visualize which tables and columns are used in certain attributes. In the screenshot below a very small event log (with one event definition) is visualized. The conversion uses 2 columns of the event.csv table. I know that the visualization shown is very small and larger visualizations will get messy but it’s hard to get it right… And, well, its only a prototype πŸ˜‰

I’m also working on my thesis, for about a month now. The contents is structured as follows:

  1. Introduction (context, problem, goal, scope and method of the project) [4 pages]
  2. Preliminaries (explanation of process aware information systems (PAIS), event logs, process mining and other conversion tools) [12 pages]
  3. Conversion Aspects (what to consider when defining a conversion) [8 pages]
  4. Solution Approach (how I planned to implement the application) [7 pages]
  5. Solution Implementation (more details of the technical implementation and use of the application) [14 pages]
  6. Case Studies (2 case studies (SAP and a custom system) to show the validity of my application) [to write]
  7. Conclusion (conclusions and future work) [to write]

So, I still have to perform my case studies, write Chapters 6 and 7 plus the abstract, preface etc. and thoroughly read the entire thesis. And all of that within the next 2 to 3 weeks. And then I’ll have to wait for the reviews of my supervisors and prepare for the final presentation of March 29…

You are all invited for my final presentation of course!!! It will be held at March 29 2010 at 15:00 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. If you like to attend, please let me know then I’ll inform you of the location.

If you can not attend the final presentation and/or want to read my thesis or try out my application, keep an eye on this blog. I’ll post a link to both of them just before or after my final presentation.

So, now I’m going back to programming again (stupid SQL error…) and enjoy the weekend in a little bit.

TTFN!

Joos

Written by Joos Buijs

February 19, 2010 at 17:17

Taking more time to do a better job

leave a comment »

(First of all, happy 2010 to all of you!)

The week before Christmas I had a meeting with my supervisor Wil van der Aalst and my tutor Eric Verbeek where Wil made a tempting suggestion: if you take more time you can visualize the mapping. His argument was that the project as is would certainly be a good master project. However, if I could visualize the mapping between the data source and the event log, the project as a whole would be more coherent and, well, better. It’s the classic ‘time-cost-quality’-triangle decision: by taking more time we can improve the quality.

Of course, this means that I will spend an extra month on my master project, paying tuition for an extra month and start to earn money a month later. But one of my goals of this master project is to show what I’m capable of, to make it a good conclusion of my education career. Therefore I have chosen to extend my project with (what turned out to be) more than a month. So, my final presentation is no longer scheduled at February 8 but will be held somewhere around the end of March. This also means that I have (much) more time to write my thesis. I’m still scheduling the whole of January for thesis writing but the pressure is off. In February I’m planning to implement the visualization and polish the application and thesis.

Well, that was it for now, hope to see you again soon πŸ™‚

Cheers,

Joos

Written by Joos Buijs

January 4, 2010 at 17:30

The preliminary results are in…

leave a comment »

…and it looks good πŸ™‚

The first preliminary results are those of my intermediate presentation of December 15. It went well, although there is always room for improvement of course. I managed to have a working version of my application by then so that was nice to show. Furthermore, there were actually people there besides my supervisor, tutor and third committee member.

The other preliminary results are the first XES event logs generated by my application. Although generated from a ‘single table source’ using a rather straight forward mapping, it is promising and rewarding to see your event log being loaded in ProM (version 6) and everything works.

Enough work remains to be done, some small (e.g. change some texts in the user interface) others larger (e.g. ordering of events in the event log and automatically linking those tables used in the mapping). But on the other hand, I still have more than a week to implement those functions and completely test my application. For comparison: I needed 2 weeks to build my user interface and update my domain model accordingly. Another 2 weeks where needed to get as far as I am now.

Since the GUI is rather stable I think I can show it to you. So, here it is:

Basic user interface of the XES mapper appication

As you can see, it consists of three main parts: The bottom part is for the ‘general mapping settings’ such as a name and description, the connection settings to the data source, managing the XES extensions (shown in the screen shot), console output and executing the mapping. The top left part is for navigating the mapping definition, here you can select the element (log, trace, event or attribute with ‘children’) you want to edit. The top right part allows you to add, edit and delete attribute definitions (shown in the screen shot), define some mapping properties and for the log specify the event classifiers (you probably have no clue why you want those but don’t worry, you’ll learn in the documentation of the new XES version).

Also, I think that, now I know the application is likely to be born without complications and is likely to survive, I can think of a (nick)name for my baby… I have a nice one in mind but I won’t announce it just yet, you’ll see it at the release.

So, the next week(s) I will add some more functionality to the application, test it thoroughly on test data and eventually on case data. And I will also work on the most exciting part: the thesis! I don’t mind working on the thesis, it is probably the most prominent result of my labor but its not, well, exciting… Programming is nicer, there you can hunt bugs, search for performance improvements and play with your creation. A thesis is just a thing that sits there and you can look at it. Luckily I’m writing it in LaTeΞ§ so I can still have compiling errors and won’t have to fight with a Word processor.

Well, for now I wish you all a nice Christmas holiday and a very nice New Year in case I don’t blog in the next 2 weeks.

ttfn!

Joos

Written by Joos Buijs

December 18, 2009 at 16:50

My sincere apologies: I’m working

leave a comment »

Hello to my few readers,

I”m really sorry that I did not update my blog for the past two weeks. The reason is simple: I’m working. I’ve started the ‘real’ programming phase of my application. This means that I either am happily programming and don’t want to lose the rhythm or I’m stuck and really frustrated and want to solve it as soon as I can. The problem with blogging (and Twittering etc. etc.) is that the more you work and have interesting stuff to tell, you don’t have time to tell it. And when you have enough time to tell it, you don’t remember what to talk about…

So, I hope that you can stick with me until new year. By then I hope to be finished with my application and start on my thesis. As you know, writing a thesis is not always that interesting so by then I hope to have enough to talk about because I’m sure that time won’t be a problem πŸ™‚

As a ‘gift’ (I have a strange sense of what to give to people ;)) I add the domain model of my application (current status!!!) to this post. This might either add to the confusion or understanding but at least I provide you with data (maybe not information but at least data).

Domain Model (version of 2-12-2009 11:00)

Hope to see you soon!

Joos

Oh, by the way, I give an intermediate presentation on Tuesday December 15 from 9:00 – 10:00 at the TU/e, Main Building, Room 5.95 (Seidelzaal). You are more than welcome to be there. I will also announce my final presentation via this blog in due time πŸ™‚

Written by Joos Buijs

December 2, 2009 at 17:46

Funny process model week 47: When to meet with your advisor?

leave a comment »

I’m starting to notice that my ‘Funny process model’ series is not so much about process models any more… Hmz, maybe process models are not meant to be funny??? Well, here is a funny PhD comic then:

My meeting is scheduled for Friday morning every other week. The ‘Pro’ is true, the ‘con’ not, or not so far at least.

– Joos –

Written by Joos Buijs

November 20, 2009 at 17:00