s and Work Practice
Administrivia & Announcements

 Who is Dr. Sierhuis?

Dr. Sierhuis is a senior scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. His research focuses on how humans and robots can work together in teams on the moon and on Mars. Dr. Sierhuis has developed the Brahms multi-agent modeling and simulation environment for analyzing human organizations in support of human-centered design. Using this environment he has studied different organizations by modeling and simulating the work practices of people within these organizations, for example an ordering process in one of the former Baby Bell Telephone companies, the work of astronauts during the Apollo missions, JPL’s mission operations of the Mars Exploration Rovers that are currently on the Martian surface, as well as the way astronauts work and life on the International Space Station.

 Why is this a three-hour course once a week?

Dr. Sierhuis works at NASA Ames and is only part-time working at SIMS. Instead of having two one-and-a-half hour courses during the week it is easier to combine these into one three our course. Charis Kaskiris, a doctoral candidate at SIMS, will be available on campus during the week to assist with learning Brahms and with questions regarding the course material.

 Will I have to do any programming?

Yes. You will learn how to program using the Brahms multi-agent modeling language. Brahms is not like Java or C++, instead it is a rule-based language, based on the classic rule-based languages in Artificial Intelligence. Brahms is a language for modeling people in organizations and it has an environment that allows you to “drag-and-drop” agents and rules in a user-friendly Graphical User Interface. Production rules are simple declarative if-then rules and thus programming in Brahms is not more difficult then writing business rules in an organization. You will learn how to model organizations in Brahms and how to write simple “business” rules that model people’s behavior in an organization. You will learn how to simulate people in a modeled organization, showing the communication and interaction of people, based on the rules you define.

 Will the class only consist of programming in Brahms?

No. The purpose of the course is to give you an introduction to analyzing the work practices of people in organizations. To do this, multi-agent modeling and simulating is used as a research tool. In this course we will spend time discussing the different approaches to analyzing organizations, including, but not solely, some ethnographic approaches that can be used to gather data for developing the models. Brahms will be used as the tool to create some simple models of organizations. Some of the course work will be programming in the Brahms language however, the focus here is on modeling organizations and people’s behavior and not on programming skills.

 Why is this class useful?

This class will give SIMS, CS, and business school students a human-centered perspective on business processes. Understanding how people actually work will enable you to better define requirements for information technology in organizations. It may also serve as a source of ideas, methodology, and tools for understanding existing organizations, designing your own processes, and generating your own projects.

Possible Projects

  • Business modeling of XML-based processes with analytics
  • Model ethnographically observed studies
  • Work practice modeling of a Day in the Life of…
  • Modeling of graphical interfaces as work practice processes
  • Modeling of agents in the wild
  • Modeling business processes
  • Modeling and analysis of policy instruments

 Besides prerequisites, are there any other restrictions for enrolling in this course?

All graduate students and well-prepared upper division undergraduates are welcome to enroll in this course. However, there are some prerequisites for taking the course (see the prerequisites). This course is open to SISM, CS and Business School students. If you are interested in the course, but want to know if you’re well prepared for this course feel free to contact Dr. Sierhuis or Charis Kaskiris (SIMS).

 What is the course size limit?

Enrollment for this course is limited to 30 students.