Modeling Avengers : Open Source Technology Mix for Saving the World

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Intermediate

Planet earth is facing massive challenges:  global warming and scarcity of natural resources among others. Those challenges are reaching a level of complexity unknown yet and trying to address those requires deep scientific understanding, real world data,  specialized tools, inter-disciplinary collaboration and the ability to evaluate “What If” scenarios.

In collaboration with scientists from INRA (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research) we experienced one of those challenges:  the use of natural resources for agricultural activities, especially water consumption.  While the scientists insight was required in smart technologies like smart farms, this understanding was required to be expressed at an higher level of abstraction through specific tooling. They felt that providing highly dedicated tools with a small budget would require super powers. To us modeling people it looked like a very good fit for DSL’s (Domain Specific Languages), hence suitable for an experiment : let’s build  specific modeling tools for smart farming systems!

This experiment represents a few days of work bringing open-source technologies together: EMF, Xtext, Sirius, Gemoc (a model debugging environment, including specific features for concurrency constraints), OptaPlanner (a constraint satisfaction solver from the JBoss community) and Acceleo, resulting in a collection of Eclipse based tools for farming systems (published on github). Just like in The Avengers, each technology bring its own capability but it is the amalgamation of all of them which lead to amazing power!

The session will start with a demo of the Smart Farming System Tooling, an environment to model, analyze and simulate an agricultural exploitation, biomass growth and water consumption based on user input and open data.  Then we will dig deeper in how the technologies are mixed and used, among other questions: which of the textual or graphical syntax is better suited for a given aspect? how can we achieve a “perfect blend” of those syntaxes? how OptaPlanner and EMF can create a powerful synergy?  how data from INRA can be structured and fed into the tool?

The talk will then evaluate how useful open-source technologies are in addressing this class of problems and how modeling can be used to support sustainability, enable broader engagement of the community, and facilitate more informed decision-making.

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