Calendar Scheduler

The Meeting Scheduler System: Preliminary Definition

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This preliminary description is deliberately intended to be sketchy and unprecise. Acquisition, formalization and validation processes are needed to complete it and lift the many shadow areas.

A number of features of the Meeting Scheduler System were inspired from various experiences in organizing meetings (faculty meetings, ESPRIT project meetings, Program Committee meetings, etc.) and from various discussions with Steve Fickas' group at the University of Oregon.

Scheduling Meetings: Domain Theory

Meetings are typically arranged in the following way. A meeting initiator asks all potential meeting attendees for the following information based on their personal agenda:

A meeting date is defined by a pair (calendar date, time period). The exclusion and preference sets are contained in some time interval prescribed by the meeting initiator (hereafter referred as date range).

The initiator also asks active participants to provide any special equipment requirements on the meeting location (e.g., overhead-projector, workstation, network connection, telephones, etc.); he/she may also ask important participants to state preferences about the meeting location.

The proposed meeting date should belong to the stated date range and to none of the exclusion sets; furthermore it should ideally belong to as many preference sets as possible. A date conflict occurs when no such date can be found. A conflict is strong when no date can be found within the date range and outside all exclusion sets; it is weak when dates can be found within the date range and outside all exclusion sets, but no date can be found at the intersection of all preference sets. Conflicts can be resolved in several ways:

A meeting room must be available at the selected meeting date. It should meet the equipment requirements; furthermore it should ideally belong to one of the locations preferred by as many important participants as possible. A new round of negotiation may be required when no such room can be found.

The meeting initiator can be one of the participants or some representative (e.g., a secretary).

System Requirements

The purpose of the meeting scheduler system is to support the organization of meetings - that is, to determine, for each meeting request, a meeting date and location so that most of the intended participants will effectively participate. The meeting date and location should thus be as convenient as possible to all participants. Information about the meeting should also be made available as early as possible to all potential participants. The intended system should considerably reduce the amount of overhead usually incurred in organizing meetings where potential attendees are distributed over many different places. On another hand, the system should reflect as closely as possible the way meetings are typically managed (see the domain theory above).

The system should assist users in the following activities.

The meeting scheduler system must in general handle several meeting requests in parallel. Meeting requests can be competing by overlapping in time or space. Concurrency must thus be managed.

The following aspects should also be taken into account.

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Updated Halloween 95 by Mary Shaw
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