Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Our very first IBM Students for a Smarter Planet Blog to kick-start this long-term project on big data analytics for environmental problem!!
On the 5th April, 2014, we finally have a chance to meet with our collaborators on this project, the professional staffs at the Hong Kong Clean Air Network, which is a non-government organization (NGO) that focuses on air quality issues in Hong Kong (and to certain extent those in Mainland China). Air pollution is a serious major problem that has plagued Hong Kong and also increasingly in many cities in Mainland China. This problem requires all levels of involvement from the society, and definitely long-term commitment. Trained as future engineers and computer scientists, we want to do our part as well, no matter how small it is.

The staffs at the Hong Kong Clean Air Network also provide all kinds of air quality monitoring equipments for loan to the public and to encourage the public to know more about the health impacts of air pollution. Truly altruistic bunch of great people!

We learnt a lot about scientific approach to air quality from them, probably things that we would never be able to learn at a university.  We borrowed an air quality monitoring sensor from them for our project. This is actually a product from TSI Inc. Here is the official website for this product: Here are the things we have:


Basically, this sensor can measure the air quality by the amount of fine particulate matter in mg/m3. The sensor can displays real-time aerosol concentration readings and can be recorded at programmable time intervals of 1 sec, 1 minutes, 5 minutes, 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes. The measuring area is the worker breathing zone, or area measurements with a respirable cyclone for this sensor. In order to capture the air quality statistics at the street level, we need to connect the sensor with a tube, and place the mouth of this tube near our noses as shown in the picture below. 


We are so excited to have a first recording soon!

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March 24th, 2014

With a slight lull in the coding and application development, we have just begun a complete stop-till-done phase in developing code for the integration framework. We expect to soon complete the first fully functional demonstartion of the SQL-Framework for Business Artifacts using BASQL queries in 2 months time.

The brief lull, was due to our preparation in submitting to a prestigious conference a research paper on this work. Results of acceptance/rejection are due in May – fingers crossed!

Anyway here are technical milestones we achieved as we are several weeks into the app-development process:

1) Creation of Artifacts with specifying Tasks, States and Data Attributes from Command line has been completed. See snapshot below:




2) Editing Artifact Attributes via BASQL Syntax. See snapshot below:



3) Viewing Artifact Content from the Command Prompt. See below:



With the brisk pace, we believe we are right on course to completing the project on time as originally envisaged. Stay tuned – the project only begins to become exciting from now on!

See you soon,

Raymond and Team

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IBM scientists are partnering with National Geographic Kids to set a Guinness World Records title for the world’s smallest magazine cover.

You can participate by voting for your favorite National Geographic Kids cover here:

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February 27th, 2014

Hi all,

The Business Artifacts team is happy to report an all systems go! We have been successful in representing all aspects of business artifacts in simple 2-D tables that can be manipulated in any leading SQL clients.
To be more precise, we provide a one-to-one mapping of how we have mapped all features of Business Artifacts to the corresponding features in any database client:

The Business Artifact Information Component to the SQL Tables

In Business Artifacts, there is an explicit information component that holds and processe variables along the business process. The variables are defined, updated, retrieved or destroyed as per the requirements in the process flow. These variables include firm process variables that indicate quantity as well as life-cylce variables, corresponding to the state of the Business Artifact.
This component is implemented, by just defining all information components - that is all the attributes and their instances in the traditional database model. For instance, in the above considered business artifact, the information
component is described as under:

/SQL Code /
Create Table Payment_INSA ( ID int , Student_Name string , Accomodation_Rent int ,
Restauration_Rent int , Paid Bool , Retired Bool ) ;

Insert into Payment_INSA values (777 , John , 330 , 230 , ’True ’ , ’ False ’ ) ;
/ Creating Instance /

Tasks in the Business Artifact Business Process Management to (Stored Procedures) Routines in SQL

Tasks in the Business Artifact centred Business Process Management world are various decision making, input and activity centres that manipulate, update and read the information components of the Business Artifacts as well as specify
life-cycle states of the artifacts based either on input activity by an external agent or based on some pre-requisite decision rules that are applied to the state variables of the business artifacts.


These aspects are capable of holding all information possible pertaining to a given business process. As such, we have completed all pre-processing necessary and are beginning coding! This is an exciting phase and we hope to make greater strides in the course of the following month!

A bientot!

Raymond and Team

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What would US Visa Processing times have in common with IBM and Data Analytics? Well, a lot actually.

Before I begin this article, this being my first on the SFSP blog, I would like to thank IBM for the generous funding as part of the SFSP Award. I would like to introduce myself – I’m Raymond Joseph a student at IIT Madras, in India. On an exchange program at INSA Lyon, France, working under Prof. Youakim Badr, we developed the basis behind expressing Business Artifacts – in simple 2-D SQL tables. OK, we’re jumping the gun a little bit here. So what/who exactly are Business Artifacts, SQL?

Business Artifacts

Business Artifacts are objects that are used ubiquitously, often obliviously in day-to-day business transactions. They consist of two components – one the data component which has information on various parameters and attributes corresponding to a particular artifact instance. Two, a life-cycle information component that has information regarding the path to be taken by the Artifact and all it’s instances in the business process. A third important component, external to the artifact but, internal to the business process is the definition of tasks. Tasks are centers that may read, modify or update information on the artifact.


An Example


I’ll explain this with a simple example – the US Visa Application Process.For the sake of simplicity, the process is slightly modified, this may not be the exact process. An applicant wishing to visit the US has to fill an online DS-160 form, pay the applicable fees, schedule an appointment at the consulate for an interview, schedule another appointment for enrolling bio-metric signatures and wait for the processed passport to be shipped to him. An artifact in this system would be the application form. The information component of which is Name, Age, Sex, Purpose of Visit, Length of Stay and many other such attributes. The Life-Cycle component would be the precise sequence in which the artifact would move. For example from application created by the user to the payment receipt system, then to the interview scheduling system and maybe finally to the consulate. The task centers in this case are the various ‘mile-stones’ or entities to which the artifact moves in it’s life-cycle: User, payment receipt system, interview scheduling systems and the consulate. This movement of the artifact maybe described by directed graphs, with the task centers as the nodes.


SQL or structured query language is a set of instructions that enable upon execution of the query, the return of a result from a relational database. The relational database is in the form of 2-Dimensional tables. The columns correspond to various attributes, while rows are instances. Many database clients (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Developer, etc) exist that provide highly optimized return on queries. The clients have an highly optimized query optimization plan, which makes a huge difference especially when the size of the database is of the order of millions of rows!

Quit Beating Around the Bush! What’s your Project About?

Alright, there’s been too much beating around the bush. So here it is: This SFSP project is aimed at attempting representation of a Business Artifact, both the information and the life-cycle components, in addition to the tasks and their definitions in database clients. Also this project aims at developing a new computer language for use in Business Artifact modeling – BASQL (Structured Query Language for Business Artifacts).

In particular, this project aims at building a JAVA application that takes in commands in BASQL and modifies databases in database clients. Currently I’m working on the database client MySQL. The application must be able to Create, Modify, Update and Query artifacts and the complete business model associated with the artifact must be modeled in simple database clients using the application.

What’s the Big Deal?

Well, for one thing, such an effort would usher in an era of widespread formalization of business artifacts, as already stated they are ubiquitous but not recognized in businesses for what they are. Most importantly, once the data is represented in 2-D tables, conventional machine learning or data analytics methods could be applied, and the possibilities are simply unlimited!

This allows for large scale deployment of Business Artifacts, in even the simplest of
businesses. The ultimate goal is a measured increase in firm earnings and a positive customer

experience. The solution is applicable to any and all businesses.

An Application

I’ll continue with my earlier example of the US Visa Application processing system since it’s already been introduced. I’ll just add a few more elements to this set-up. Let’s assume once the application has been made, within the Consulate there are decision and information collection nodes. Quite presumably, the application could move back and forth several times between these nodes, before a final decision is made. This integration of Machine Learning and modeling of business artifacts within the 2-D framework could answer well in advance the following questions:

How much time will the processing take?
What path, between the several information collection and decision-making nodes will be followed by the application artifact?
And even maybe forecast the decision – will the visa application be approved?

What’s all this got to do with IBM?

Good question. Apart from the fact that the project is generously funded by IBM, this project has everything to do with IBM! The concept of Business Artifacts was developed by IBM researchers. (More on this: In addition, IBM played a pioneering role in the development of relational databases.

Alright, I have now in non-technical terms explained what the project is going to be about. Soon, I’ll blog on the theoretical aspects that make this idea possible.

A Bientot,

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