NAVAL

POSTGRADUATE

SCHOOL

 

MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA

 

 

THESIS

 

 

CONTENT REPURPOSING OF ELECTRICAL DIAGRAMS FOR PRESENTATION IN HANDHELD DEVICES

 

by

 

Vasilios Papaliakos

 

December 2004

 

 

   Thesis Advisor:                                          Neil C. Rowe

   Thesis Advisor:                                          Gurminder Singh


Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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          REPORT DOCUMENTATION PAGE

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1. AGENCY USE ONLY (Leave blank)

 

2. REPORT DATE 

December 2004

3. REPORT TYPE AND DATES COVERED

Master’s Thesis

4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE:  Content Repurposing of Electrical Diagrams for

                                             Presentation in Handheld Devices

5. FUNDING NUMBERS

 

6. AUTHOR                         Vasilios Papaliakos

7. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES)

Naval Postgraduate School

Monterey, CA  93943-5000

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11. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES  The views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

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Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited

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13. ABSTRACT (maximum 200 words)

 

This thesis proposes a design for content repurposing of electrical diagrams for presentation in small-screen wireless handheld devices. Content repurposing is the on-line adaptation of content to fit device capabilities and user's preferences. The focus of this thesis is on electrical diagrams of the schematic type used for maintenance purposes. Nevertheless, many of the proposed techniques are suitable for other technical drawings as well. A significant amount of work has been done in summarization of Web documents and in diagram recognition, but not for presentation of diagrams in handheld devices. In the design proposed here, techniques are proposed for understanding the semantics of electrical diagrams and for partitioning the drawing images in intelligent ways to formulate coherent units for presentation to the user.

 

 

 

 

 

 

14. SUBJECT TERMS 

Content Repurposing, Artificial Intelligence, Electrical Diagrams, Image Analysis, Vector Graphics, Handheld Devices, Wireless Networks, Composite Capabilities/Preferences Profile (CC/PP)

15. NUMBER OF PAGES

81

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Unclassified

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Unclassified

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UL

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Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited

 

 

CONTENT REPURPOSING OF ELECTRICAL DIAGRAMS FOR PRESENTATION IN HANDHELD DEVICES

 

Vasilios Papaliakos

Lieutenant, Hellenic Navy

B.S., Hellenic Naval Academy, 1994

 

 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the

requirements for the degree of

 

 

MASTER OF SCIENCE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE

 

 

from the

 

 

NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL

December 2004

 

 

 

Author:                        Vasilios Papaliakos

 

 

Approved by:             Neil C. Rowe

Thesis Co-Advisor

 

 

Gurminder Singh

Thesis Co-Advisor

 

 

Peter J. Denning

Chairman, Department of Computer Science

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ABSTRACT

 

 

This thesis proposes a design for content repurposing of electrical diagrams for presentation in small-screen wireless handheld devices. Content repurposing is the on-line adaptation of content to fit device capabilities and user's preferences. The focus of this thesis is on electrical diagrams of the schematic type used for maintenance purposes. Nevertheless, many of the proposed techniques are suitable for other technical drawings as well. A significant amount of work has been done in summarization of Web documents and in diagram recognition, but not for presentation of diagrams in handheld devices. In the design proposed here, techniques are proposed for understanding the semantics of electrical diagrams and for partitioning the drawing images in intelligent ways to formulate coherent units for presentation to the user.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

I.          INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................ 1

A.        PROBLEM SPACE........................................................................................ 1

B.        OBJECTIVE.................................................................................................... 3

C.        MOTIVATION.................................................................................................. 3

D.        THESIS ORGANIZATION............................................................................. 5

II.         APPLICATION AREA................................................................................................ 7

A.        ELECTRICAL DIAGRAMS........................................................................... 7

B.        MAINTENANCE TASK ANALYSIS............................................................ 9

C.        HANDHELD-DEVICE CAPABILITIES AND LIMITATIONS................ 10

1.         Processing Power.......................................................................... 10

2.         Screen Size...................................................................................... 11

3.         Network Connectivity.................................................................... 11

4.         Data Input......................................................................................... 12

5.         New Internet Standards (WAP and WML)................................ 12

6.         Device Capabilities........................................................................ 13

D.        CONTENT REPURPOSING...................................................................... 13

III.        RELATED WORK.................................................................................................... 15

A.        GENERAL..................................................................................................... 15

B.        RECOGNITION AND INTERPRETATION OF DIAGRAMS................. 15

C.        GRAMMARS AND META-MODELS........................................................ 17

D.        SUMMARIZATION AND ABSTRACTION............................................... 19

E.        CONTENT REPURPOSING...................................................................... 21

IV.       ARCHITECTURE DESCRIPTION........................................................................ 23

A.        OVERALL ARCHITECTURE.................................................................... 23

B.        OFF-LINE IMAGE ANALYSIS................................................................... 24

1.         Obtaining the Image....................................................................... 24

2.         Finding Standalone Line Segments.......................................... 25

3.         Finding the Remaining Entities.................................................. 27

4.         Finding Connected Line Segments........................................... 27

5.         Classifying Connections Between Line Segments............... 27

6.         Identifying Components and Connectors (Rule-Based)..... 30

7.         Identifying Other Entities.............................................................. 32

8.         Identifying Components and Connectors (Probabilistically) 34

C.        ON-LINE PRESENTATION AND CONTENT TRANSFORMATION.. 37

1.         Desired Behavior............................................................................ 38

2.         General Strategy............................................................................. 39

3.         Panning............................................................................................. 42

4.         Zooming............................................................................................ 42

5.         Condensation and Expansion of Subsystems...................... 44

6.         Clutter Identification and Avoidance......................................... 45

7.         Adaptation to the Device's Capabilities.................................... 46

8.         Auxiliary Operations...................................................................... 46

9.         Modular Design............................................................................... 49

D.        NAVIGATION AND USER INTERFACE................................................. 50

1.         Orientation........................................................................................ 50

2.         Panning and Zooming................................................................... 51

3.         Navigation and Interactivity......................................................... 52

E.        THE CLIENT APPLICATION PROGRAM............................................... 54

V.        DISCUSSION........................................................................................................... 57

A.        CONCLUSIONS........................................................................................... 57

B.        FUTURE WORK.......................................................................................... 57

LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................... 59

INITIAL DISTRIBUTION LIST........................................................................................... 67

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


LIST OF FIGURES

 

 

 

Figure 1.         Electrical Diagram Example Elements (After (United Technologies Corporation, 1985))       8

Figure 2.         The Subsystems Concept.............................................................................. 8

Figure 3.         Off-Line Process (High Level View)............................................................ 23

Figure 4.         On-Line Process (High Level View)............................................................ 23

Figure 5.         Line Segments Anomalies........................................................................... 25

Figure 6.         Line Segments – Continuity......................................................................... 26

Figure 7.         Finding Remaining Entities.......................................................................... 27

Figure 8.         Connection Sub-Categories........................................................................ 28

Figure 9.         Gamma-, Tau- and Cross-Connections...................................................... 28

Figure 10.      Formation of OUT and IN boxes.................................................................. 29

Figure 11.      Visual Rectangle........................................................................................... 31

Figure 12.      Examples of Characters............................................................................... 32

Figure 13.      Examples of Special Markings.................................................................... 34

Figure 14.      Rounded and Curved Rectangles............................................................... 34

Figure 15.      Example of Annotation Box.......................................................................... 37

Figure 16.      Panning Example.......................................................................................... 42

Figure 17.      Zooming Example......................................................................................... 43

Figure 18.      "Pulling" a component................................................................................... 48

Figure 19.      Resolving Collisions...................................................................................... 48

Figure 20.      Modular Design of the On-Line Process.................................................... 50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

 

I would like to sincerely thank my advisors Neil Rowe and Gurminder Singh for their mentoring, guidance and support throughout this work. They have patiently encouraged my efforts with their inspirational and insightful comments.

I would also like to thank my sponsor, the Hellenic Navy, for providing me the opportunity to pursue my studies at the Naval Postgraduate School and enjoy this exciting overseas experience.

Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank my family: my parents Nikolaos and Danae who have always done their best for me, and my lovely wife Vicky and wonderful son Nicholas who have constantly supported me with their love, encouragement and patience. This work is dedicated to them.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I.        INTRODUCTION

A.        PROBLEM SPACE

We are experiencing the dawn of an era where small computers in the form of cellular telephone devices and personal digital assistants (PDAs) are dominating the market and invading our lives. Laptop computers and notebooks—the truly personal computers—are increasingly reduced in size, while becoming more powerful at the same time, making the promise of information mobility a reality. Today, the most commonly used mobile computer is the "smart phone", an integration of cellular phones and PDAs. Other devices, such as wearable computers with head-mounted displays, are also becoming popular and we will probably see more of them in the near future.

Devices that support mobility have some common characteristics as a consequence of their small size and their support for connectivity. Among the most prominent characteristics are the following:

·                    Limited processing power, memory and storage capabilities.

·                    Small screens with fewer pixels and a smaller set of colors than the traditional computer displays.

·                    Unstable wireless connectivity, which provides a smaller bandwidth with great fluctuations.

·                    Limited input capabilities, with slow, difficult and error-prone methods.

Despite their limitations, mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular. We expect that near-future technological advances will overcome most of the above limitations, except for the small size of the screen (Kasik, 2004). Due to the desired small size and weight of mobile devices, the inherited small screens will probably continue, although we expect the screens to be enriched with more pixels and more colors.

The mobility and portability of these devices make them good for accessing digital content in remote places, where a standard computer is unavailable. Today, it is possible to browse the Internet through wireless, handheld devices and even make transactions such as purchases over the Web. Although these actions can be performed from a desktop computer faster and with more security, people find this technology useful because it permits them to operate while being away from their office. Moreover, many companies support their employees using mobile devices and, in some cases, they also provide them with the hardware.

Among the people needing remote access to information, we can identify a group of technical people that need to consult drawings and diagrams while working away from their office. Examples of such cases span from technical managers visiting construction sites, to extreme situations where technicians may be hanging from towers in order to install or maintain isolated equipment. The working environment, with occasionally harsh conditions and the distance from the supporting office on one end and the need to consult several diagrams repeatedly on the other end, suggests that a mobile device capable of presenting those diagrams is highly desirable. The fact that companies nowadays have so many diagrams in digital form makes the mobile, handheld devices almost ideal for this task, provided that the problems of presenting diagrammatic information in small-screen devices are solved.

Presenting electrical diagrams—created for presentation on large sheets of paper—into small-screen mobile devices is a challenge. Simply shrinking the image is not effective: small screens do not have enough pixels to handle large images, and even if they did, the image would become so small that it would be unintelligible. Moreover, the transmission of large images over the limited and highly fluctuating bandwidth of wireless links would make sending the full image problematic. Therefore, we need a solution that presents to the users the most content their devices can handle, taking into consideration the small screen and the limited networking and processing resources of those devices. This thesis proposes a computer program design that addresses these problems.

 


B.        OBJECTIVE

This thesis will discuss the difficulties of partitioning diagrammatic content of a technical nature and presenting it on small-screen wireless devices. The specific application investigated is to create a design for a program that will present electrical diagrams created for presentation on large-size paper documents on small-screen mobile devices, to facilitate maintenance tasks. This design includes provision for dynamic on-demand presentation that meets the needs of the users and the capabilities of their devices at every request. A computer is capable of constructing complex diagrams fast, given the appropriate directions.

Our work attempts to explore novel ways to infer the semantics of electrical diagrams automatically, construct internal representations, and then present the content to the users in coherent units. The major issues addressed in this process are the intelligent ways of partitioning the drawing images to formulate coherent units of information for the user and efficient ways of drawing parts of the technical diagram on a small screen. User-interface and navigation issues will be considered also.

Although the focus of this thesis will be on electrical diagrams only, many of the techniques and strategies discussed in our study will be suited to display other types of technical diagrams as well.

 

C.        MOTIVATION

The idea for this work came from the observation made by Boeing (Kasik, 2004) that, for every job, a technician made an average of thirty interruptions to consult drawings. Therefore, a computer program that could intelligently and meaningfully present those technical drawings in a portable, small-screen device through a wireless link would dramatically reduce the problem of time spent on interruptions.

One might assume that it is easy for technicians to have the actual paper drawing beside them during their work, but this is not always practical. Two examples illustrate situations where such a computer program could be useful because paper drawings cannot be used.

Example 1

Gas turbines are machines that use an extensive network of sensors to function properly. These sensors are attached on the exterior of the gas turbine, which is usually located inside a casing. Any technician who needs to maintain one of those sensors will have to work inside this casing, sometimes in a very confined space and at a very uncomfortable posture. Clearly, this is not a place where there is room to spread a big paper drawing. There are many places on ships where technicians have to work in confined or hard-to-reach places.

When technicians work in pairs—one working in the confined space and the other close-by, verbally explaining what the diagram shows—this can be counter-productive, expensive and time-consuming. Another method that technicians employ is to photocopy the diagrams they intend to use, making them smaller or cutting the copies in smaller pieces, but this can be awkward.

Example 2

Photocopy machines cause a lot of frustration when they are inoperative. When this happens, a technician arrives and tries to fix the problem. Although the places where photocopy machines are located usually offer ample space to spread paper drawings, there are too many drawings for the technician to carry.  A photocopy machine may have one, two or several volumes of technical drawings, manuals and troubleshooting guides. To be prepared to deal with every possible failure, one should carry all these to the place where the machine is. Even worse, technicians who have scheduled the maintenance of three different models in one day for instance, will have to carry the triple amount of technical volumes. Finally, if the technicians receive their scheduling orders on the road through their cellular telephones, they will not be able to carry all the applicable documentation for every possible breakdown.


D.        THESIS ORGANIZATION

This thesis consists of five chapters. In Chapter II we discuss important concepts related to electrical diagrams, maintenance task, content repurposing and the devices capabilities. In Chapter III we describe previous related work on the subject. In Chapter IV we present our design proposal and finally, in Chapter V we end with a discussion on the conclusions and the future work on this topic.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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II.       APPLICATION AREA

A.        ELECTRICAL DIAGRAMS

Everyday, people use images and diagrams to communicate ideas and meanings to each other. "A picture is worth a thousand words," says the old proverb illustrating that the expressiveness of pictures—including diagrams—is so powerful that we use it, together with text or speech, to build mental models of how things are and how they work. Pictures, images and diagrams are analogical representations of the real world: the depicted objects, although drawn simplified, are many-to-one mappings from the real instances (homomorphisms) (Anderson & McCartney, 2003).

In diagrams, and especially in technical drawings, a homomorphism usually exists in dimensional, positional, or functional analogies that help the viewer construct, maintain or use a piece of equipment. Electrical drawings are technical drawings that represent electrical components and their interconnections (wiring). They are created according to standard conventions regarding their layout and interpretation and they usually include textual annotation to facilitate the tasks performed by their users. They do not require dimensional accuracy. Typical tasks supported by electrical diagrams are maintenance, faultfinding and repairs, and assembly and disassembly of equipment.

Electrical diagrams consist mainly of components and connectors. The components represent the objects of the electrical system and the connectors represent the wiring that connects these components. Examples of components include simple electrical components, such as diodes, transistors and amplifiers and also more complicated components, such as integrated circuits or even circuit boards. Very often, the connector symbols bear special marks that add information such as the direction of flow, meeting points, continuity, protection screening, multiple wiring per connector, or grounding. Also, we frequently find textual annotation (standalone, in a box, or in a bubble) that explains key information about the nearby object. Finally, other special notation may be used for navigational purposes or as reference to more detailed views of a component. Examples of all of the above elements are shown in the following figure, in the order they were mentioned.

        Figure 1.         Electrical Diagram Example Elements (After (United Technologies Corporation, 1985))

Occasionally a group of components, together with their interconnections, appears as a separate group enclosed inside a box. The grouping occurs because of functional similarity or physical-location proximity. We can see such a group as a component, when we are looking at it with a "black box" approach, or we can see it as a subsystem, when we are looking at it with the approach of a "glass box". The black box concept is very common in engineering: the meaning is that we treat the box as a whole, looking only at its inputs and outputs, being ignorant about the box's interior mechanism (Wikipedia, 2004). The glass box concept (or  "white box") permits us to know also how the box works internally. Figure 2 illustrates these concepts.

                                                                                                                 Figure 2.         The Subsystems Concept

Finally, we may find subsystems that—enclosed inside boxes—form even bigger subsystems. When this happens, it implies a hierarchical order between the components.

There are two types of electrical diagrams: wiring and schematic (Integrated Publishing). Both use vertical and horizontal lines for the connectors and most of the components; in both, the components are drawn simplified. The wiring type includes components that resemble the actual components and denotes their physical location. The schematic type shows components as symbols and emphasizes on the function rather than the resemblance to the components; therefore, it is more useful for maintenance purposes (Ishii, Ito, Iwasaki, Yamamoto, & Kodama, 1981). In our thesis we will be dealing with schematic diagrams mostly, since that type supports maintenance tasks more efficiently. Nevertheless, most of the techniques and strategies we propose are suitable for wiring diagrams also.

 

B.        MAINTENANCE TASK ANALYSIS

For the task of maintenance—including preventive maintenance, faultfinding and repairs—we need to identify the key operations, both simple and complex, that technicians perform when they consult electrical drawings. This task analysis will guide us to what we need to support and will help us see the problem from the user's point of view. Many of these key operations are so simple that they sometimes get disregarded (Kasik, 2004).

In a graphic image, a user can infer much information by purely visual analysis. Key operations related to visual analysis of electrical diagrams for maintenance purposes are:

·                    Identifying an object in the diagram by its name or its function. Users expect to find objects that "look like an amplifier", for instance.

·                    Identifying an object in the diagram by its physical location.

·                    Finding a physical object in the real world by its connectivity to other objects (wiring).

·                    Distinguishing well-connected components from little-connected components. Sometimes this reveals neuralgic components of the system.

·                    Checking for connections between two objects of interest, possibly through other objects. This is useful for verification hypotheses the user formulates (e.g. "this must be the cause").

·                    Associating textual identification tags (names or codes) with the components or connectors.

·                    Reading textual annotations or hearing them.

·                    Zooming in to see more details about a specific entity.

·                    Zooming out to include neighboring entities and gain information on the context of the entity of interest.

·                    Tracing a connector to find connected components.

·                    Condensing a subsystem into a component or black box.

·                    Expanding a subsystem and seeing the interior details (a glass box).

·                    Discriminating between types of entities by making types more evident. For example, a user might like to see components redrawn in a different color from the color of connectors and text.

·                    Collecting (or grouping) entities of greatest interest for a specific maintenance job.

 

C.        HANDHELD-DEVICE CAPABILITIES AND LIMITATIONS

Although handheld devices are definitely becoming powerful assistants, their capabilities are still limited. Watching rich multimedia content, such as video, with these devices is very challenging (Lyu, Yen, Yau, & Sze, 2003), but so are other common tasks such as browsing the Web (Alam et al., 2003) (Yang & Wang, 2003) (Jones, Marsden, Mohd-Nasir, Boone, & Buchanan, 1999). The reasons that common tasks become difficult for mobile handheld devices are in the devices' inherent limitations on processing power; screen size; network connectivity, and input.

1.         Processing Power

Handheld devices have evolved much, but still their processing power and memory capacity are limited. Existing device processors run at various speeds from 8 MHz to 400 MHz (Ferguson, 2002), significantly slower than desktop computers. Some contemporary PDAs are equipped with 128 MB of RAM, while inexpensive devices have only tens of kilobytes (e.g. 160 KB total RAM) today, running on special operating systems and interpreters (e.g. KVM) (Motorola).

With the limited processing power of mobile devices, application developers cannot rely on processing on the client's side. Instead they are forced to develop "thin clients" where little processing takes place on the device, and most occurs on a server. This approach typically uses much bandwidth. For example, instead of shipping simple commands for a zooming operation, a thin client will need the whole image to be recalculated on the server and the result transmitted back to the client. Unfortunately, the small memory does not permit pre-fetching (i.e. downloading) related data to the client (like images from the adjacent zoom levels), as there is not enough space to store the data.

2.         Screen Size

A typical PDA's screen has 160 x 160 pixels of resolution and a cellular phone's screen can be 120 x 80 pixels only (Alam et al., 2003). Compared to the minimum screen resolution (800 x 600) of desktop computers, the PDA's resolution is twenty times lower. However, not only is the resolution lower for the handheld devices, the screen size is also smaller. PDA's screens—typically 3''—are almost five to six times smaller than those of desktop computers (15''-19''); cellular phones have even smaller screens. Finally, color is yet another factor where handheld devices have less capabilities: while some PDAs show 16-bit color variation, some less equipped models can only show black and white images.

3.         Network Connectivity

Mobile devices have many options for wireless connectivity: the IEEE (IEEE, 2004) 802.11-related technologies (recently 802.16 has been added too) and the cellular technologies of 2.5G and 3G (3GPP, 2004) are the most prominent. Bluetooth (Bluetooth SIG, 2004) and IrDA (Infrared Data Association, 2004) can also be used, but only for short-distance links (about 10 meters maximum). All these options have similar problems: wireless links suffer from relatively small and widely fluctuating available bandwidth (Wireless Application Protocol Forum, 2001b). Moreover, the transmission of radio signals consumes significant amount of energy that is drawn from the small batteries of the mobile devices, thus shortening their autonomy. Therefore, transmitting less data will benefit both the network and the devices. The minimization of data transmission can be achieved by compression or by pruning information that the device cannot handle (Singh, 2004).

4.         Data Input

Entering data in desktop computers is easier than for small handheld devices. The keyboard and mouse, the principal ways to enter data in desktop computers, have been replaced by touch-screens in PDAs and limited keypads in cell phones. Entering data in handheld devices is difficult and error-prone by nature (Buyukkokten, Garcia-Molina, & Paepcke, 2001). Besides, navigation from page to page (or image to image) needs either additional keys or extra space in the already limited screen area for navigational symbols such as arrows. Good design strategies should avoid the need for users to enter data and, at the same time, facilitate them in giving navigational directions, without consuming the already limited display area.

5.         New Internet Standards (WAP and WML)

Viewing all these differences from the desktop computers, in 1997 Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia and Phone.com (formerly Unwired Planet) created an industry group named the Wireless Application Protocol Forum (Wireless Application Protocol Forum, 2002) to create and promote industry standards specifically tailored for the handheld mobile devices. The WAP standard is based on existing Internet standards such as HTML, XML and TCP/IP.

One of the main features of the WAP protocol is the micro-browser, a mini-version of a browser that requires less processing power and memory and it is suited for presentation on small screens. The WAP micro-browser is capable of presenting content written in Wireless Markup Language (WML), an XML-derivative markup language that is designed for mobile devices. In addition to WML, a similar scripting language called WMLScript is also supported by the WAP micro-browser.

6.         Device Capabilities

Each mobile device comes equipped with different capabilities such as processing power, display, and wireless connectivity. With a plethora of handheld devices and cellular phones available today, there exist many combinations of various capabilities. Each such combination is called a profile. Content targeted for devices with a specific profile may not suit devices with a different profile. In order for content to suit one device, it must be tailored to that device’s profile.

In addition, it is helpful to have a common language to express these capabilities across different platforms. Two approaches have emerged: the Composite Capabilities / Preferences Profile or CC/PP (World Wide Web Consortium, 2000) and the User Agent Profile or UAProf (Wireless Application Protocol Forum, 2001a). CC/PP uses the Resource Description Framework or RDF (World Wide Web Consortium, 2004) to define a high-level framework for the description of the device's capabilities and the user's preferences, without defining the exact language. UAProf extends the CC/PP model to build a WAP-compatible version that standardizes many of the components defined in CC/PP.

 

D.        CONTENT REPURPOSING

A vast amount of Web content that exists today was created for access from desktop computers. Very often, authors were not aware of the new handheld devices and of their browsing capabilities and limitations. Even today most machines that access the Internet are desktop computers.

During the last few years though, things have rapidly changed. More and more people access the Internet with their mobile devices through wireless links. According to the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) Forum, two billion wireless mobile users will exist by the year 2010 (Beaulieu, 2002). Very often though, some transformation must be applied to the content to suit a specific handheld device or, in other words, a device with a specific profile. With all the different profiles existing today, and even more tomorrow, the transformation task becomes a hard problem.

The solution is to automatically transform the original content to match the specifications and preferences of the requesting device, which are described with the CC/PP or UAProf standards. This is called content repurposing as the content remains unchanged (avoiding inconsistent versions and storage-space problems) and is made to fit the specific requested profile.

Singh (Singh, 2004) describes some of the main topics of interest in the field of content repurposing:

·                    Content analysis to aid repurposing

·                    Content description schemes and tagging

·                    General content repurposing techniques

·                    Techniques for maintaining (and expressing) semantic and syntactic integrity of content

Stated in simple terms, content repurposing is the ability to automatically prepare and present specially tailored versions of existing content, while keeping the original form of the content intact in one always-consistent version.

 

 

 

                                       

III.      RELATED WORK

A.        GENERAL

Despite an extensive literature that covers areas related to diagram understanding and content repurposing, we have not found any literature dealing with the specific problem we are addressing. In the next paragraphs we will discuss previous attempts to solve problems similar to ours.

 

B.        RECOGNITION AND INTERPRETATION OF DIAGRAMS

Understanding diagrams, recognizing and interpreting their semantics, is an active area of research. There are two kinds of diagram-interpretation methods: on-line and off-line. The off-line methods take as input scanned (still) images and try to infer semantics mainly from spatial arrangement only, while on-line systems can utilize temporal information also, such as timing of strokes for example, making thus recognition easier (Hutton, Cripps, Elliman, & Higgins, 1997).

(Anderson & McCartney, 2003) is an on-line approach that manipulates diagrams directly without interpreting the images into symbolic representations first. As a basis for this direct manipulation, they use the inter-diagrammatic reasoning (IDR) approach, in which a general syntax and a set of operators for diagrams are specified. Their approach is similar to high-level image analysis.

(Ishii et al., 1981) discusses the automatic off-line input of logic-circuit diagrams from scanned pictures. Their algorithm detects signal lines (connectors) and symbols (components) first and then recognizes text. This approach is similar to ours for the off-line recognition and classification, but their design imposes strict drawing conventions. For instance, the drawings must have only template-based symbols and the line branches must all have characteristic dots to denote a branch. To recognize components, they use a pattern recognition algorithm that searches for T-shaped patterns only, while we use many more patterns.

(Watanabe & Nagao, 1998) tries to understand diagrams using clues from the textual and layout information of each diagram. In their work, they use as an example case a pictorial book of flora, a book that includes pictures, diagrams and explanatory text to describe the rich world of plants. They attempt to perform some natural language analysis on the textual annotations that surround the diagrams, and then use this information together with the layout of the diagram in a rule-based system to classify words from the annotation into five predefined categories. The way they combine layout and textual information is interesting, but their approach is not universal, as many diagrams do not depend on textual information for their interpretations (e.g. electrical diagrams).

(Lank, Thorley, & Chen, 2000), (Gross, 1994) and (Hutton et al., 1997) discuss different on-line interpretation approaches for images. (Gross, 1994) in its "cocktail napkin" approach describes a system that performs recognition in two stages. In the first stage, low-level recognition is performed through pattern matching for simple shapes and constructs such as circles, boxes, arrows, and letters. In this stage, the simplicity with which such "glyphs" can be identified and matched to predefined patterns is exploited. Spatial relations between glyphs are also recognized and noted. In the second stage, higher-level recognition is achieved through bottom-up parsing, where special high-level recognizers try to match glyphs with specific spatial configurations each (e.g. a tree recognizer looks for spatial configurations similar to trees). In this work, the user initiates the recognition and also gives directions on the type of diagram match.

(Hutton et al., 1997) describes a strategy for on-line interpretation of engineering drawings. They also discuss the difficulties and differences between off-line and on-line interpretation, concluding that the on-line approach gives more information, thus making interpretation an easier task. Their primary focus is to distinguish the outline of the main objects and the annotations in the engineering drawing, as the two categories of lines require different treatment. Their main heuristic for classifying a line as part of an object or annotation is the thickness of the line, which—in the case of an on-line system—they derive from the pen pressure applied by the designer.

(Lank et al., 2000) describes a system for on-line recognition and interpretation of hand-drawn Unified Modeling Language (UML) diagrams. In the paper, they refer to a multi-level view of diagram recognition, which describes seven levels of understanding a diagram, starting from the image acquisition up to the full semantic interpretation. In their design, the first step is to classify pen strokes as parts of text characters or UML glyphs. Their heuristic is based on the mean and standard deviation of stroke lengths. After this classification, the heuristics they use to recognize UML entities (such as classes) are based mainly on the number of strokes and various distance metrics such as the ratio of total stroke length to the perimeter of its bounding box. They refer to on-line techniques that are efficient for recognizing a limited set of glyphs (about four glyphs per diagram type) with very distinct features. Nevertheless, their work is very interesting—especially on the heuristics they use for the interpretation.

Finally, (Kasturi et al., 1988) and (Kasturi et al., 1990) discuss a system that generates descriptions of the contents of paper-based (i.e. off-line) graphics. Their algorithm begins with separation of text from graphics with a method that is described in (Fletcher & Kasturi, 1988).  Next, they recognize and separate solid components using erosion and dilation techniques and they detect straight line segments. After that, they attempt to recognize simple shapes by forming loops with the already-found line segments. This technique may work well for distinct and separated entities, like in organization diagrams, but it will probably have trouble with electrical diagrams, where many connectors intersect in right angles without forming any entity (a component, for example).

 

C.        GRAMMARS AND META-MODELS

Grammars that can describe visual or graphical languages are discussed in many papers. (Ferrucci, Tortora, & Tucci, 1994) describes a technique for the semantic analysis of visual languages such as those describable by non-deterministic finite state automata (FSA). The underlying assumption is that the visual language is specified by a relation grammar where sentences are generated by production rules that interpret symbols and the relations between them. As an example of semantic analysis by their technique, they perform the translation of a non-deterministic FSA into its corresponding regular grammar.

(Helm, Marriott, & Odersky, 1991) introduces some new techniques for building visual-language parsers. According to them, most visual languages use a combination of three basic categories of relationships:

·                    Network, where lines connect elements in a diagram, such as in an electrical circuit.

·                    Topological, such as containment, intersection or touch.

·                    Geometric, such as relative proximity, orientation or size.

The semantic interpretation of diagrams is performed through the use of constrained set grammars, which differ from traditional string grammars in two ways. First, possible relations between symbols include not only adjacency but other relations such as containment and intersection also. Second, while in string grammars parsing occurs from left to right, in constrained set grammars there is no natural order in parsing. A difficulty with this approach is that non-determinism leads to inefficiency as backtracking occurs very often. Also, with too-strict constraints, it may be impossible to parse the language efficiently. Therefore, the suggested strategy is to arrange the constraints in the production rules in a more efficient way, but no method is provided.

Other papers describing techniques based on constrained grammars include (Futrelle & Nikolakis, 1995), (Futrelle, 1992) and (Futrelle & Nikolakis, 1996). Futrelle has conducted a significant amount of research in diagram analysis and understanding: (Futrelle, 1990); (Futrelle, 1999); (Futrelle, Shao, Cieslik, & Grimes, 2003); (Futrelle et al., 1992).

Similar to the concept of grammars describing diagrams is the concept of ontologies or meta-models for the contents of diagrams. (Obrenovic, Starcevic, & Selic, 2004) presents a meta-model framework for content repurposing of multimedia content. The multimedia meta-model defines various concepts that can be useful for repurposing content. Their work is inspired by the Model-Driven Architecture of the Object Management Group (OMG, 2002).

One of the most important meta-model creators is the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) (MPEG, 2004) which has produced several multimedia standards including the MPEG-7 and MPEG-21 standards (Burnett, Walle, Hill, Bormans, & Pereira, 2003), two meta-models that describe multimedia content. (Tseng, Lin, & Smith, 2004) used these two meta-models as the base for repurposing video content for delivery to handheld devices.

 

D.        SUMMARIZATION AND ABSTRACTION

A significant amount of work has been done towards automatic summarization of textual content. More recent efforts have focused on the Web content, since much was originally created for accessing and viewing through powerful well-connected medium-screen desktop computers.

            (Alam et al., 2003) summarizes Web pages, often with a variety of multimedia content, for small display devices such as PDAs and cellular phones. This effort is content repurposing: By summarizing Web pages, Web browsing can be done on smaller screens and more effectively as less data needs to be transmitted and displayed. Their approach classifies Web content in four categories: "text", "link", "image" and "other". For "text" they apply natural language processing (NLP) techniques, while for the rest they use non-NLP techniques. The NLP techniques are based on noun extraction by the use of a special tagger (Brill, 1992); lexical relations are found by the use of Wordnet (Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University, 2004) and score calculation through special calculating formulas. For the residual types of content they create labels based on visual clues such as font size and style. These labels are then utilized to transcode the output. Similar visual clues are used by (Rowe, 2002) to match captions to images.

(Delort, Bouchon-Meunier, & Rifqi, 2003) creates summaries by inferring the context of Web documents from the textual information of other documents linking to them. (Jing & McKeown, 2000) extracts important sentences, reduces them by removing inessential phrases, and finally combines them to form coherent summaries. (Buyukkokten et al., 2001) summarizes Web textual content for handheld devices with five different methods of progressive disclosure; the summarization process operates differently for each presentation method. The methods they use are: "incremental", where the content is revealed in three stages (the first line, the three first lines and then the whole); "all", where no progressive disclosure is performed; "keywords", where first only the keywords are shown, then the first three lines and finally the whole; "summary", where first the most significant sentences are presented and then the whole; and finally "keyword/summary", where the first stage shows the keywords, the second shows the most significant sentences and the third shows the whole.  (Yang & Wang, 2003) summarizes large Web documents using a fractal model; a skeleton is initially created for the summary as the user specifies the compression ratio, and sentences from the original document are chosen according to a collection of text features. (McDonald & Chen, 2002) evaluates sentences for summarization combining five well-known text features: the presence of cue phrases (e.g. "in summary"); the existence of proper nouns like names and places; the "term frequency / inverse document frequency" (TF/IDF) metric; the position of a sentence in a paragraph (e.g. at the beginning); and finally, the length of the sentence. Many criteria used for sentence selection and evaluation are based on the work by (Luhn, 1958), (Edmundson, 1969) and (Salton & Buckley, 1988).

Research has also been done on classification of images for summarization. (Lim, Li, Mulhem, & Tan, 2003) proposes a framework for automatic organization of image libraries. Their method for summarizing images is based on selecting key photos from a collection according to the time stamp and the content of each. (Hu & Bagga, 2004) performed a study on automatic classification of images found in Web pages into seven predefined categories. Their work focused on repurposing Web content for wireless devices, since a categorization of images would be useful for setting priorities for transmission to devices with limited bandwidth for instance. The heuristics they used for this classification are based on features, such as size, irregular aspect ratios, frequency domain features, color domain features, and text features.

Abstraction, like summarization, concentrates information by hiding the lower-level data and presenting only the higher-level representations. (Egyed, 2002) proposes an abstraction technique for class diagrams in UML. His approach is based on a rule-based system with rules that cover the limited set of relationships in UML. He also discusses the scaling of the abstraction process, proposing methods for serialization of the process and for resolving ambiguities. The gist of his abstraction method is to identify patterns of components that can be grouped together to form a single construct that replaces those components. Finding these patterns is the most critical part of this process. Some general rules that can be very useful in recognizing patterns are mentioned by (Nesbitt & Friedrich, 2002). In their work, they apply the Gestalt principles of organization, named by the Gestalt school of psychology (Russell & Norvig, 2003). These principles can be stated in simple laws, such as the law of similarity which states, "similar things appear to be grouped together" (Nesbitt & Friedrich, 2002). Such rules can be applied to many kinds of diagram for grouping related components together.

 

E.        CONTENT REPURPOSING

The content repurposing process can be described as three steps (Singh, 2004). The first step is to analyze and understand the content; the second step is to describe the content in flexible ways to facilitate reformatting and repurposing; and the third step is to transform the content to fit the specific circumstances. With proper repurposing, we can reduce many problems of handheld devices. For example, when a mobile device cannot handle well a certain type of content, then the proper strategy for the server is to not send it at all.

The techniques for content repurposing can be classified into four categories: scaling (down), manual authoring, transducing, and transforming (Schilit, Trevor, Hilbert, & Koh, 2002; Suh, 2003). Scaling means to make the content smaller to fit a small screen; manual authoring means manually tailoring the content; transducing means automatic conversion  (e.g. from HTML to WML); transforming is the most general case and means content modification to more suitable forms for handheld devices (e.g. removing tables if the device cannot handle them). (Knutsson, Lu, & Mogul, 2002) uses the term transcoding instead of transformation, and describes content modification of video and images by removing information to adapt to the requirements of the screen size and the wireless link of a mobile device (e.g. cropping images or removing frames from a video).

(Ma & Singh, 2003) present a technique for downscaling images while preserving thin lines. Their method works well up to the point where the graphics in the image become crowded. (Pea et al., 2004) describes a system for repurposing digital video interactively. Their system (called DIVER) allows the creation of a personal view of the recorded video content according to the selection and personalization of the user. For example, the recorded content might be a 20-minute video of a whole office at work taken by a surveillance camera, while a specific view might show only the manager of the office as he works and moves from employee to employee. (Lyu et al., 2003) presents a system that interacts with the mobile client and can adapt to the client's lack of resources by degrading the presentation quality of video content.

For repurposing diagrams, (Tan, Ong, & Wong, 1993) presents a heuristic method for automatic layout of diagrams. Their method is tailored to Data Flow Diagrams specifically, but their rules give a more general idea of how layouts in other diagrams can be achieved when repurposing (and possibly repositioning) occurs. (Kasik, 2004) describes methods for presenting as much diagrammatic information for large technical diagrams as possible in small-screen devices, while keeping the key characteristics of the diagrams intact. He also proposes some partitioning patterns for adapting graphic images (mainly technical documents) to small screens.

IV.     ARCHITECTURE DESCRIPTION

A.        OVERALL ARCHITECTURE

In this chapter, we will present the architecture of a system that repurposes the content of electrical diagrams and presents it on small-screen handheld devices. This system consists of off-line image analysis and on-line and on-demand adaptation of the content to fit to small-screen devices.

We will first understand the semantics of the diagram off-line and will create an internal representation of the outcome. Then, we will dynamically create on-demand images that present the content, taking into consideration the basic capabilities of the requesting device. Throughout this, we prefer deterministic approaches in interpreting the diagrams wherever possible because thus we avoid efficiency problems and we make the system simpler.

The following figures present a high-level view of the architecture.

                                                                                                 Figure 3.         Off-Line Process (High Level View)

                                                                                                 Figure 4.         On-Line Process (High Level View)

The next sections will discuss first the architecture for the off-line image analysis, the strategies that we use to adapt the content to the handheld devices, the issues related to navigation and the user interface, and finally the needed operations for the client application.

 

B.        OFF-LINE IMAGE ANALYSIS

The method we propose for analyzing the image and interpreting it into a high-level structure implies a layered architecture in which each layer is a higher-level interpretation of the layer beneath it. First, we need to obtain the image. Then we need to search this to find collection of pixels that we can group together as more meaningful entities such as a line segment, a character or a special symbol. Then we need to search for higher-level entities such as components and connectors, which constitute from the already discovered entities. Finally, we need some verification routine to check for inconsistencies and measure the confidence values for each interpretation. The layered architecture will provide different results for each layer. We can imagine layer 0 consisting of an array of pixels, layer 1 bounding boxes of line segments, layer 2 connected segments (parts of components or connectors), and so on.

1.         Obtaining the Image

The routine that obtains the image must:

·                    Retrieve the image from a database and load it into working memory.

·                    Create an array of zeros and ones (0 and 1) that represents white and black pixels of the image, respectively.

·                    Compute histograms, the number of black pixels per row or per column of an array (since we expect that the image pixels will be either black or white, and many more will be white than black).

·                    Sort values for subsets of pixels.

·                    Compute mean values and standard deviations for subsets of pixels.


2.         Finding Standalone Line Segments

One problem when we try to find line segments in the image is anomalies caused by scanning faults, drawing faults and other faults, for instance:

·                    Pixels that are extraneous to the edges of a line, like in the upper edge of the upper connector to the amplifier shown in the following figure

·                    Pixels that are missing from the edge of the line, like in the lower connector

·                    Pixels that are missing and cause disconnection of a line, like in the lower connector (very close to the triangle).

                                                                                                                Figure 5.         Line Segments Anomalies

Even without these anomalies, line segments may have widths of more than one pixel, making the task of fitting it more complicated.

To manage all these complexities, we propose to find the average width and height of a line segment and use this to build a bounding box around it. We will start from a black pixel and search for neighboring black pixels in all four directions. Every time we fail to find a black pixel in one direction, we stop searching in this direction and conclude that we have reached the end for this direction. When all four directions—north, south, west and east—have been reached to the end, a virtual bounding box will be formed from the coordinates of the last pixel in each direction.  In addition, the bounding box for each segment will have a list of connections to other bounding boxes as it finds them.

If the search starts from a pixel at the periphery of a line segment, only a small part of the line segment may be discovered instead of the whole area (see Figure 6 below).

  

                                                                                                              Figure 6.         Line Segments – Continuity

One solution is to start at a position that will avoid this problem. Good starting positions should discover black pixels in two opposite directions (up and down, or left and right). If this does not happen, then another pixel should be selected as the starting pixel. A second solution tries to find the longest line segment possible. First, we verify that the discovered area has a length-to-width ratio of more than 2:1. The method finds the maximum line segment that can be found starting from any pixel in the segment. To do this for a horizontal line segment (that is, in a row which has a large number of black pixels), we use as starting pixels those in the same Y-coordinate as the original starting pixel. For each of these pixels we find the furthest point to the left and the furthest point to the right. Then we take the two points that have the maximum distances for each direction as the ends of the area.

This method will continue discovering new line segments.  It will also find pixels that cannot be part of a segment, and will mark them as bad starting points. When all pixels in the image have been either found to participate in a segment or marked as a bad starting point, the search for line segments should finish.

This approach finds line segments in the horizontal and vertical directions only. This assumption serves well for most segments in an electrical diagram. The rest of the segments can be found in higher-level searches.

3.         Finding the Remaining Entities

The method of the previous subsection will miss dashed lines, sloped lines, curved lines, as well as special markings and characters. All these entities must be discovered by a subsequent search that finds connected groups of pixels in the remaining pixels.

                                                                                                               Figure 7.         Finding Remaining Entities

4.         Finding Connected Line Segments

To search for line segments that appear to be connected together, we can search for bounding boxes that are connected. Bounding boxes can either "touch" each other or intersect. Having the coordinates of the bounding boxes makes it easy to check.

Without loss of generality, we may assume that connected segments are either horizontal or vertical. We can use an indexing scheme that orders segments according to their orientation and to their starting and ending coordinates, to find segments that can be possibly connected. Then, we can verify connections by checking simple rules.

5.         Classifying Connections Between Line Segments

Connected horizontal and vertical segments fall in one of three categories:

·                    Gamma-connection type (= angle)

·                    Tau-connection type (T)

·                    Cross-connection type (+)

We can further sub-categorize the gamma-connections and the tau-connections. Each connection of the gamma type will occupy one of the four possible corners; each connection of the tau type will occupy one of the four possible edges. We can enumerate all these connections by counting them clockwise. The following figure shows all nine connections and their respective numbering.

                                                                                                             Figure 8.         Connection Sub-Categories

Each of these three connection types gives information for higher-level interpretation. For example, a gamma connection can be part of a component or a turn of direction in a connector. Tau connections will probably be points of contact between a connector meeting a component. Cross connections are most probably interpreted as parts of two connectors crossing each other.

To classify connections, we will use two boxes, OUT and IN. The width of the IN box will be equal to the width of the OUT box minus two times the width of the vertical segment; its height will be the height of the OUT box minus two times the height of the horizontal segment. The idea is that, if a line segment lies at the periphery, then it will be inside the OUT box, but outside the IN box. The following figure shows this concept for one occurrence of each type of connection.

      

                                                                                           Figure 9.         Gamma-, Tau- and Cross-Connections

The coordinates for the two boxes are (where width(B) refers to the width of the vertical line segment—more accurately, to the width of its bounding box, and height(A) refers to the height of the horizontal line segment):

 

OUTX1 = min (AX1, BX1)

OUTX2 = max (AX2, BX2)

OUTY1 = min (AY1, BY1)

OUTY2 = max (AY2, BY2)

INX1 = OUTX1 – width(B)

INX2 = OUTX2 – width(B)

INY1 = OUTY1 – height(A)

INY2 = OUTY2 – height(A)

                                                                                                     Figure 10.      Formation of OUT and IN boxes

Now we check whether INX1<BX1 and BX2<INX2. If so, then the vertical line (B) is inside the IN box, and we have probably either a cross-connection or a tau-connection of type 1 or 3 (+, T or  respectively). If INY1<AY1 and AY2<INY2, the horizontal line (A) lies inside the IN box, so we probably have a cross-connection or a tau-connection of type 2 or 4 (+, —| or |— respectively). If both these checks are true simultaneously, then we have a cross-connection; if only one of them is true, then we have a tau-connection; if none of these two checks is true, then we probably have a gamma-connection.

 

At the end of this procedure, we can codify every connection according to the identification number, type and sub-type of connection (e.g. gamma-one), the identification number of the horizontal segment, and the identification number of the vertical segment.

6.         Identifying Components and Connectors (Rule-Based)

The next step after finding connected line segments is to try to identify how these segments form components or connectors. We start by examining the information that each type of connection can provide us about the line segments. The cross connection, does not happen too often but usually occurs between two connectors. It can also happen between one connector and a boundary line, auxiliary lines that separate groups of electrical components to denote functional similarity or location proximity. They either form closed rectangles that include parts of the electrical diagram to group them together in subsystems, or they separate electrical parts into different locations by open straight lines. The tau connection usually occurs between a connector and a component; the connector ends at the edge of a component. Sometimes this connection can happen between two connectors, usually with a dot at the point of connection, denoting the meeting. The gamma connection almost always indicates the connection between two similar entities; it happens between two line segments of either a connector or a component. The gamma connection can give us reliable conclusions due to the fact that rectangles are formed by four line segments that are always connected by gamma connections only. Most importantly, rectangles can only be components (or annotation boxes in special cases), not connectors. Even when we visually recognize a rectangle formed by connectors, it is not really the case. It is true that what we see is visually a rectangle, but technically it is not.

                                                                                                                              Figure 11.      Visual Rectangle

An illustrative example will shed some light on this. Suppose that we consider the pattern annotated by the ellipsis in the above figure and we recognize it as a rectangle. Visually, this is definitely a rectangle but, according to the image analysis described earlier, it would not be interpreted as such. The reason is that, theoretically, a rectangle is formed by four segments connected with gamma-connections. In the above case we have instead four tau-connections. In addition, the vertical segments that participate in these connections extend beyond those connection points. Therefore, the case described here is merely a set of tau-connections and not gamma-connections. Subsequently, it does not qualify as a rectangle although, visually, it seems so. A similar case may appear when we have connectors crossing other connectors in right angles. Again, patterns will appear that visually will look like rectangles, but in reality are interpreted as cross-connected connectors, not as components.

Recognizing a rectangle is simple. Once a gamma connection has been found, we search clockwise to find the next gamma connection of the rectangle that shares one of its segments with the former connection. This process repeats four times until it finds the original connection again.

Another key step for each identified component is to try to find tau connections that terminate on the component. This distinguishes annotation boxes, which are detached and do not have connectors attached to them. Segments connected to connectors with gamma connections can be recognized as parts of the same connector (a connector that makes a 90-degree turn). With methods like these, we can expand knowledge about the semantics of the diagram, reducing ambiguity. This can continue by following line segments until one of the following happens:

·                    The connector makes a tau connection with an already recognized component, closing thus the link between two remote components.

·                    The connector makes a tau connection with an already recognized connector.

·                    The connector makes a tau connection with an unrecognized segment, in which case we must wait for that segment to be resolved by other means (as a form of relaxation).

7.         Identifying Other Entities

To identify other entities, such as characters, dashed lines, special markings and sparse dots, we will begin with the identification of characters. Several characteristic features facilitate the identification. First, characters form words and phrases, therefore they tend to appear in horizontal alignment. Second, the rule in electrical diagrams is that annotation is done with capital characters using only one font; therefore we expect to find all characters with the same height. An exception occurs with some symbols such as "plus" (+) and "minus" (-) symbols, which denote polarities. We also expect them to have a width-to-height ratio within certain limits. For example, the letter "I" will have the minimum ratio, while letter "O" will have the maximum ratio. In addition, we expect characters to have the same horizontal distance from each other, meaning the distance between their bounding boxes. The same feature of proximity applies between lines of text. When multiple lines appear, as it is common inside annotation boxes, the distance between lines is always the same. The following figure presents some examples of characters found in electrical diagrams.

         

                                                                                                                  Figure 12.      Examples of Characters

Characters in electrical diagrams also have another recognizable feature: they tend to appear in standard positions. For instance, descriptions of components appear in the center of the component. The same applies with characters inside annotation boxes. Sometimes, characters appear near the connection point between components and connectors, denoting polarities or types of connections. Finally, since characters in electrical diagrams appear consistently in the same font, once we identify a few, we learn their characteristics that we mentioned above.

Dashed lines almost always appear in vertical and horizontal directions to represent special connectors or boxes. They are small collinear line segments; therefore they will have been already identified as line segments by the process described earlier. These small segments have the same length and the same amount of whitespace between them, therefore we can check periodicity by a histogram of the lengths and of the gaps between segments; a periodic pattern of collinear segment terminations should appear.

Dots are detached little entities, the size of which is usually smaller than a quarter of a letter's size. We measure size in relative terms because the absolute number of pixels depends on the scanning resolution of the original image. Sparse dots can be classified either as participating in a pattern or as noise; If we cannot classify a dot as part of a pattern, we consider it to be noise. The pattern would have gaps of same length, as with dashed lines.

Entities that appear attached to the sides of line segments are the special markings and small protrusions. These include some of the most important entities we find in electrical diagrams, such as bullets, arrows and endings. These entities are always adjacent to connectors and are either symmetric with respect to the connector, like arrows, or anti-symmetric, like the lines that cross a connector, denoting multiple wires per connector. The key for identifying these entities is to find the line segments to which they are attached. Then, by testing the symmetric and anti-symmetric positions with respect to the line segment, we can classify these entities as special markings. A characteristic of these entities is their small length and the similar size of the two halves on each side of the segment. Their size cannot be larger than five to ten times the width of the line segment and is usually close to the size of characters. In the following figure we can see the symmetric and anti-symmetric parts of three special markings in one line.

                                                                                                       Figure 13.      Examples of Special Markings

Due to the way we identify line segments, small protrusions on the sides of segments may appear. For example, a small cluster formed by five pixels in a row may be attached to the segment by its 5-pixel-wide side. Most of these protrusions can be ignored.

8.         Identifying Components and Connectors (Probabilistically)

After we have found possible components and connectors with the previous methods, we need to interpret the rest of the line segments, using more features than just the gamma- and tau- types of connections. Three features in electrical diagrams are valuable for the task of classifying segments into components or connectors. The first is that components tend to be rectangular. This means that some components will have some properties of a rectangle but will lack one of the required properties. For example, a component may have four straight-line segments that meet at rounded corners, or one side of a rectangle may be replaced with a curved line (see Figure below). From these examples, we can see that it will be helpful to examine structures that are nearly rectangles and that form a closed shape.

                                                                                                  Figure 14.      Rounded and Curved Rectangles

The second feature is the length of the line segments; in electrical diagrams, it is common to have long connectors that connect distant components. Therefore, long line segments are usually parts of connectors; they rarely are parts of a component. Additionally, it is usual to have a series of components aligned so the connectors that connect those components are collinear. Therefore, if we find some line segments that are aligned in a straight line, and the gaps between them are not empty, it is very likely that all these segments are connectors.

Finally, a third feature is the presence of special marks like arrows or bullets on a line segment. Components rarely have any of these marks on the line segments of which they consist.

While trying to assign line segments to components or connectors using these features, we may get conflicting evidence. We need to have a method to rate this evidence to resolve ambiguities. The process we propose uses a set of probabilistic rules. These rules have an "if-part" and a concluding part in which one interpretation of the participating entities is given.

For every probabilistic rule, we find combinations of entities that conform to the "if-part" of the rule. Each entity gets one vote for the "then" part of each rule that succeeds for it. After the voting process has finished, we assign classifications to the entities for which we have only one kind of votes. Then we continue in the order implied by the number of votes for each entity. At each step we first check whether the newly identified entity can reveal the identity of other entities based on the deterministic rules we have previously discussed in subsection 6 of the current chapter (identifying components and connections [rule-based]). As an example, consider the case of a rectangle with a curved line as in the figure above. If we have just identified it as a component, we may verify that the line segment that connects to it with a T-type connection is a connector. This conclusion may trigger more deterministic rule-based identifications, propagating thus the string of safe conclusions as a form of relaxation.

When the deterministic rule-based identifications cannot proceed any further, we return to the probabilistic rules and perform some post-processing pruning on the votes of the remaining entities. More specifically, for every entity that we have identified through deterministic rules, we find all the interpretations where this entity participated. Then we remove the votes from all the entities that were part of combinations that were incorrectly classified. After that, we test whether the deterministically identified entities are involved in the "if-part" of any probabilistic rule and if so, we add more votes to the already existing ones. Finally, we set the confidence values of the deterministically identified entities of this round to this of the first entity of this round that triggered the deterministic identifications.

Here are some example probabilistic rules:

·                    If we have a connection of T-type, then the segment that terminates is a connector and the other segment is part of a component.

·                    The above rule applies also for two connectors, for example when they form a connector branch. Consequently, every combination of entities that conforms to the "if-part" of one rule will get two votes: one for a set of connector-component and one for a set of connector-connector.

·                    Multiple line segments that are aligned but are not a dashed line are connectors.

·                    Multiple line segments (horizontal, vertical or sloped) that form a closed curve are a component. By closed curve we mean that, starting from one segment we find connections through the rest until we end on the one we started from.

·                    The above rule applies also for an annotation box.

·                    A closed curve that is detached is an annotation box and not a component.

·                    A closed curve that does not include characters cannot be an annotation box.

·                    A rectangle that does not have at least three line segments or if it does not have two parallel line segments cannot be an annotation box.

·                    Line segments greater than the threshold length of connectors are connectors. The threshold length is one standard deviation greater than the average length of a connector.

·                    A line segment connected to an entity other than a line segment or letter is a connector and the other entity is a special marking. Many times connectors terminate on entities like ground symbols or line-continuity symbols.

·                    A segment (including a boundary line) that meets another line segment with a cross-connection is a connector.

·                    A line segment that has one or more entities attached to its side (not to its ends) other than line segments (e.g. special markings) is a connector.

One more issue about annotation boxes is the entity that they describe. Since annotation boxes are generally formed by parallel lines, it is safe to infer that the line or lines that point to the entity are those that are neither parallel to another line nor they form right angles with the parallel lines. As an example, consider the following figure. Another form of annotation pointing is a line or arrow drawn from the annotation box to another entity.

                                                                                                             Figure 15.      Example of Annotation Box

A final point is that some entities may never get identified properly. This may happen for example if these entities get an equal number of votes for more than one identity, or the identification they get from the probabilistic rules may conflict with the deterministic rules that involve other entities. In such a case, we must consider these entities unidentified. This will not affect repurposing much as these entities will generally be enclosed in narrow bounding boxes.

 

C.        ON-LINE PRESENTATION AND CONTENT TRANSFORMATION

The on-line process of transforming the content and presenting it on the handheld device's display is a complicated task that involves many operations. We will attempt to recognize and describe these operations that will later form the basic modules in our design.

We will begin by describing the desired behavior of the system and then discuss the general strategy we follow to achieve this behavior.

1.         Desired Behavior

Our objective is to build a system that can display the content of electrical diagrams on small screens, presenting as much information as possible while preserving the essential details of the diagram. The system must provide point-of-view controls (panning and zooming operations); it must also provide operations that permit the contraction and expansion of abstracted entities (mainly subsystems and textual annotations). In addition, this system must be able to adapt the presentation of content to the specific capabilities of the end-user device. Overall, this process of presenting specifically tailored content is content repurposing.

The purpose of repurposing is two fold. First, it should reduce the number of bits necessary to represent a screen display. The ideas of the previous section allow us to create a different, more compact representation of the same image by transforming a bitmap image to a vector graphic image and maximize the ratio of visual information to data. Second, it creates visual representations that are clearer (more crisp and without noise) and that can be more easily manipulated by resizing and other useful transformations.

We draw much of our intensity in repurposing electrical diagrams from the analogies we find in geographical maps. The specialized content of geographical maps is similar to that of electrical diagrams in many ways. Maps show cities connected by roads the same way electrical diagrams show components connected by connectors. Cities and components have different sizes, and some of them are more important than others. Often roads and connectors become long as they connect entities (cities and components) in series. (MapQuest, 2004) is well known for presenting geographical location information at different zoom-level maps, a kind of repurposing. As the user zooms out of a map, cities and roads of lesser importance can be hid to remove clutter from the map image. The opposite happens when the user zooms in: more roads and more names appear to give more detailed information. This approach of abstracting entities to remove clutter is used in electrical diagrams modified: components that form a subsystem are replaced by a single abstract component that represents the subsystem.

2.         General Strategy

The overall strategy we use for diagram presentation is described in the following paragraphs, followed by more detailed descriptions in the next subsections.

We start with a pre-defined zoom level and at a pre-defined location of the original image. This way we start the presentation consistently each time, helping the user to adjust and get oriented faster. For the predefined zoom level we need to show a big enough portion of the original image for the user to get the context, while we want to avoid too much concentration of content on the user's first contact with the diagram. The appropriate zoom level should be defined by the complexity of the image. As an initial level we suggest a window of one ninth (1/9) of the original image. For the predefined starting location we suggest the upper-left corner, as this is a standard way to start navigation in a big document.

The location and size of the window determines the components to be displayed. The components that are included fully in the window should be displayed; the ones that are totally out of the window should not be displayed. As for those components that are included partly in the window, the system has to decide whether to include them in the presentation or not. We will discuss later how this is determined. We do not need to worry about partially included connectors. We will always treat partially included connectors in one consistent way: we will show only the included part until the border of the window. This way the user will know that the connector continues beyond the current display. We will see in later subsections how this can be used for navigational purposes.

For the resolved entities (those that are to be displayed), we present components and connectors as vector graphics with a fixed line width (e.g. two pixels). The components' size will be in proportion to their original size. For example, if the window width at the original image is 300 pixels and the width of a component is 100 pixels, then the same component should occupy one third (1/3) of the window width in the device display. This way we keep the context of the diagram and we avoid confusing the user. The connectors do not need to maintain proportion in their sizes; they can get shorter or longer without confusing the user. There is one constraint about connectors though: the components have to keep their relative positions, even when connectors reduce their size. For instance, if one component is on the left of another component, then the relative position of those two components should be maintained even after shortening the connector that connects them.

When the border at one side of the window is filled only with whitespace, that is no components or connectors appear (normal whitespace, as we explain in the following paragraph), we shift the window towards the other side to eliminate wasted space. We do this twice: once for the up-down direction and once for the left-right direction. If both sides in one direction appear to have whitespace, for instance both up and down, then we chose to move the window away from the wider whitespace to accommodate as many entities as possible.

There are two methods for computing whitespace. The first method computes whitespace taking into account both components and connectors: when none of these two entities appear, we consider the area as whitespace. We call this n-whitespace, for normal whitespace. The second method computes the c-whitespace in which only components matter: if no components appear, we consider the area as c-whitespace, where "c" stands for "component-only". The reason for these two different versions is that sometimes we need to know the normal whitespace, while sometimes we need to know if any components appear in the area. Therefore, c-whitespace is not really whitespace; it refers to components only.

When a component is only partially included in the window, we need to determine whether this component must be displayed or not. Showing only parts of a component is of little value to the user. A proper partitioning strategy should anticipate for situations where a component cannot be presented in full. The option is to shorten the length of a connector so that the component is fully brought into the available window. If this is not possible, the component should not be displayed at all. There are two circumstances where pulling a component inside the window is impossible. First, when we shorten the connector to its minimum length and still the component is not fully included. Second, when the component is eventually included fully inside the window, but it overlaps with another entity. Therefore, we need to resolve potential overlaps between the new component and other entities in the window.

When we are presented with a situation where many components are partially included in the window, we need to choose a component and apply the appropriate method for bringing it fully into the window. The easiest approach is to choose the one that needs the smallest movement to accommodate into the available area. We can determine the length of the required movement by measuring the distance from the edge of the screen to the edge of the component, more specifically, the edge that falls outside the available area. If the chosen component fits into the screen area by shortening the lengths of some connectors, then there may be room for yet another component. By using the same method, we can choose another component and try to accommodate it like the previous one. If the accommodation attempt fails, the process stops. Also, the process will stop when there are no more components to choose, which means that all components were successfully accommodated into the available screen space.

Finally, we must expect that failures may occur during these complicated zooming, panning and abstracting operations. Consequently, we must provide an escape route from situations like these. A possible approach is to attempt to present the immediately higher zoom level and if this fails also, then present the upper-left corner, just like in the beginning of the presentation. Alternatively, we could present the immediately previous view, returning back and allowing the user to request the same or another operation. If the user selects the same operation and the system fails again, then it should revert to the original upper-left corner presentation, as with the previous strategy.

3.         Panning

Panning is an operation where the user shifts the viewable window towards one of usually four or eight predefined directions: north, east, south, west, or additionally, northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest. As the user moves the window new entities may be included and previously included entities may get outside of the window. Therefore, each time the window moves, a complete recalculation following the general strategy must take place.

If during panning we reach at a point where a window has a lot of c-whitespace on the side opposite to the direction of the movement, this window should be shifted further towards the panning direction until there is no more c-whitespace on its border. As an example, consider the case of the following figure where, due to panning towards the east, we reach at a point where the western border of the new window is full of c-whitespace. Then, by shifting the window further to the east, we eliminate the waste and thus we are able to include more components into the viewable window.

                                                                                                                             Figure 16.      Panning Example

4.         Zooming

According to our general strategy, we start the presentation at a predefined zoom level. Then the user can zoom-in or zoom-out to see the content with a different perspective. Essentially, zooming is equivalent to altering the size of the viewing window. When users zoom in, the viewing window becomes smaller and the components are displayed larger; the opposite occurs when they zoom out. To support the two zooming operations it is helpful to have predefined zoom ratios.

When the user zooms-in, some components that were originally inside the window may become only partially included. As an example, consider the situation depicted in the following figure. There is a two-step process to resolve these partially included components. First, we try to shift the window towards the component if we find c-whitespace at the opposite border. Thus we will include more (or all) of that component. If many components are partially included, we shift the window opposite to the direction that has the most c-whitespace. Second, we try to bring the component inside the viewing window by pulling it with the method described in the general strategy. With this two-step process we attempt to accommodate as many components in the viewing window as possible.

                                                                                                                            Figure 17.      Zooming Example

When the user zooms-out, we first test whether n-whitespace exists. If so, we shift the window to eliminate wasted space. Then, if we find partially included components, we try to pull them inside the window area, if possible. Decreasing the size of the image (zooming-out) and including more components into the viewing window may produce cluttered images where the shown entities appear too close to be distinguishable. For this reason, we need a method to decide whether an image is considered cluttered or not. Some basic rules may well serve this purpose. Identifying and resolving clutter is discussed in subsection 6 (Clutter Identification and Avoidance).

There is a limit to the zoom level a user can request. The possible zoom levels span from displaying the component in its original size (1:1), to displaying the diagram until cluttering occurs. Therefore, there is no precise limit in the high-level view zoom.

5.         Condensation and Expansion of Subsystems

Showing more diagrammatic information in small screens depends, among other factors, on the ability to concentrate information. There are several techniques we can use to present fewer, but most significant content. This is useful for situations where we have a lot of information to show in a small screen device. Four of these techniques are named below and then described in the following paragraphs.

·                    Detail elimination

·                    Abstraction

·                    Topological modification

·                    Replacement of content with symbols or pointers.

Detail elimination removes insignificant components from the display. Most components in electrical diagrams are significant, but possible exceptions are components connected with dashed lines and annotations.

Abstraction replaces many related functional units with one functional unit. We discussed the abstraction process in chapter II, at the description of the subsystem concept. As an example, we may consider components enclosed inside boundary lines.

Topological modification is shortening the connectors and presenting components closer together, while in the original diagram these components might be far apart, as discussed earlier.

Replacement of content with links (symbols or pointers) is a general technique that can be used to expand non-critical pieces of information when needed. One example is to insert a special mark whenever a subsystem is condensed to signal the existence of a more detailed view. This mark can be interactive in the sense that the user may select it to expand the subsystem.

This can also be done for textual annotations that often accompany components and connectors. Those annotations need not be presented every time a user looks at a diagram. Once they have been read, users tend to remember the information without looking at them again, so they can be represented by symbols on the main display. It should be noted that this refers more to annotations that are long, such as directions or explanations and less to annotations that are short and give specific data, such as polarities. Therefore, annotations are an easy target for concentration, as they can be replaced by special marks that indicate the presence of an annotation, without displaying the text.

6.         Clutter Identification and Avoidance

Every useful image should obey some basic rules about image clarity and clutter avoidance. For example, a rule about line visibility may say that any line should have a minimum width of two pixels. A rule about clutter avoidance may say there must be a minimum distance of at least five pixels between entities to keep the image intelligible. A set of rules like these should have an order of priority, depending on their importance.

When the produced image becomes cluttered due to the decreasing process (zooming out), a set of special techniques should be employed to recover from the situation. Such techniques include replacing components with their subsystem equivalents (abstraction) or decreasing the size of all components by a factor greater than the zoom factor. Probably the best strategy is to reduce the size of the components up to the point where cluttering occurs again. This time, clutter would be decided by a different criterion, such as a rule that would state the minimum size of a component (e.g. a component should have height and width of at least twenty pixels). When the size of a component is falling below the minimum standard, no more size reduction can be done. In this case, the only option is to substitute lower-level components with their higher-level equivalents, that is, the subsystems that those components constitute.

These changes must take place in a certain order. For abstraction, the number of components that form a subsystem and the level in the subsystem hierarchy implies the order in which these substitutions should take place. We must therefore condense all subsystems of one level before start condensing subsystems of the next higher level. To do so, we begin with the subsystem that has the most components; if many subsystems exist, then we chose to begin with the one that has its centroid closer to the center of the window.

7.         Adaptation to the Device's Capabilities

The main piece of information that we need about a device for repurposing is its screen dimensions. With this information we can adapt the content of the diagram to the specific device used by the user. This is achieved by building a special image that fits exactly on the device's display. Screen size is also necessary to calculate the minimum size of a component and to determine whether clutter occurs.

Device color capability is also important. In color-capable displays, we can employ more techniques for presenting information. For instance, we can show components in different colors when these components can be expanded. In monochrome displays, we can insert a special mark that represents the same concept, instead.

The following example illustrates the additional potential uses of information about the status of the device. Some devices sense the lighting conditions to adjust display brightness. When lighting conditions do not permit colors to be distinguished clearly (e.g. in bright daylight), the system should revert from the first option of color-coding, to the second option of special marks.

8.         Auxiliary Operations

In this subsection we will describe some of the auxiliary operations that our system needs to perform. Many of these operations have been mentioned or described shortly in previous subsections. The auxiliary operations are listed below:

1.                  Operation that finds components and connectors that are totally included inside the viewing window:

This can be easily determined using the X and Y coordinates of the components and of the viewing window. We will use the following notation: the coordinates for the components will have a "C" as a prefix while the viewing window will have a "W" as a prefix; the coordinate for the left end will be X1; for the right end it will be X2; for the top it will be Y1 and for the bottom it will be Y2. For example, CX1 represents the X coordinate of the left end of a component. A component is totally included inside the viewing window if and only if

(CX1WX1 AND CX2WX2) AND (CY1WY1 AND CY2WY2).

2.                  Operation that tests whether a component is included only partially in the viewing window:

If the component is not totally included, then it may be only partially included. We can easily check for this case by testing according to the following rule:

(CX2>WX1 AND CX1<WX2) AND (CY2>WY1 AND CY1<WY2).

If a component fails the first test (total inclusion), but passes the second test (total or partial inclusion), then it is only partially included in the viewing window; otherwise, it is not included at all.

The same operation can be used to determine whether a connector is included only partially.

3.                  Operation that retrieves the identification number and the rest of the data for a component that lies outside the viewing window at the hidden end of a partially included connector:

This operation is basically a search in the database of the internal representation for the components that a connector connects together.

4.                  Operation that attempts to bring a component inside the viewing window by "pulling" it (shortening the length of its connector) in the direction of the connector:

This operation is possible only if the connector can be shortened in each direction, by at least the same length as the needed displacement of the component in the same direction. This shortening in the length of the connectors is allowed, provided that the final length will conform to the minimum connector length to avoid clutter. Also, the entry points to the components and the orientation of the connectors is not permitted to change. As an example, consider the case in the following figure, where a connector that protrudes from the right side of a component and makes a right-angle turn towards the south connects to another component. The latter component needs to be displaced in two directions (north and west) to be included inside the viewing window. Therefore, we have to shorten the lengths in both parts of the connector, but we also have to keep the same points of attachment to the two components.

                                                                                                                      Figure 18.      "Pulling" a component

5.                  Operation that identifies collisions and resolves them:

After bringing a component inside the viewing window, a collision might occur between this component and the other entities that are already in the area. This operation first identifies possible collisions and then resolves them.

For the identification we may use the same operation that tests for partial inclusion of components. The only needed modification is that in this case we treat the new component as the viewing window. This way we test for intersections or collisions of components or connectors. We also need to extend this test for annotation marks using the same principle.

If we discover a collision between the new component and another entity, we need to resolve it. If the new component collides with many entities (more than one), we should abandon the attempt and reject the new component. If there is a collision with only one entity, we should try to move the two entities apart in the direction that resolves the collision the most quickly. We can find this direction by first computing the collision area and then finding the shorter dimension in the rectangle that is formed by the collision area. An example is presented in the following figure. Very often the new component will lie at the border of the viewing window, therefore it will not be possible to move it outwards, as the previously described method will indicate. In that case the other colliding entity will have to be moved inwards. The movement of this entity will be performed with the same method that brings a component inside the viewing area: by shortening its connectors in the directions of displacement (and, at the same time lengthening its connectors in the opposite direction).

                                                                                                                                     Figure 19.                  Resolving Collisions

Finally, after one of the entities has been relocated and the collision has been resolved, there is one last test that needs to be performed. We need to test for possible collisions again, this time with the relocated entity. If no collisions are found, the process succeeds; otherwise, we abandon the resolution attempt, we return the old entity to its original location, if it was moved and we reject the new component ending the process.

6.                  Operation that identifies whitespace:

This operation identifies n-whitespace and c-whitespace on selected areas. More specifically, given the coordinates of an area, the operation searches within these coordinates for components (c-whitespace) and other entities (n-whitespace) by their coordinates.

7.                  Operation that constructs the output image and transforms it into various other formats:

The server must be able to construct any requested format (by the client) in real time. Due to the nature of the repurposing application, the native format that the server builds initially is in a vector-graphics language, such as the scalable vector graphics (SVG) (World Wide Web Consortium, 2003). Therefore, the server must be able to transform the constructed image from its native format to the format requested by the client. The most prominent options for image formats are SVG, Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG, 2004), Graphical Interchange Format (GIF) (TechTarget, 2004) and Portable Network Graphics (PNG) (Roelofs, 2004).

 

9.         Modular Design

The overall design of the on-line process at the server is illustrated in the following figure. The depicted cloud includes all the necessary modules for the on-line part of our proposed system. The main core includes the general strategy and the basic operations, such as panning and zooming or condensation and expansion. Other modules that communicate with the core are the request processor, which prepares the input with the help of the CC/PP module and the image module; the internal representation interface, which communicates with the relevant database; the image generator, which generates the main image of the diagram; the context map generator, which generates the context map; and finally, the image format transformer, which combines and transforms the images generated by the previous two modules to the appropriate image format.

                                                                                       Figure 20.      Modular Design of the On-Line Process

 

D.        NAVIGATION AND USER INTERFACE

In this section we will discuss issues related to the user's orientation, interactivity and navigation and options for panning and zooming.

1.         Orientation

We must help users keep orientation and perspective when they navigate the diagram. For this, we select a typical context-preserving technique that shows the whole diagram, compacted in a small independent window. This window, which we call the "context map", will show only the most important components based on size. The components that are presented each time in the main window will be highlighted in the context map. This way, even when topological modifications are performed, the users still maintain orientation and context.


2.         Panning and Zooming

A user can perform two operations, principally: panning and zooming. These two operations can be further sub-divided into even simpler operations, which combine appropriately to provide a complex, but coherent way of navigation through the diagram. Here, we will summarize these simple operations in two lists, one for panning and one for zooming.

·                    Panning in standard directions: north, west, south, and east.

·                    Jumping to components only, skipping whitespace and long connectors.

·                    A special technique in panning is performing topological modifications, shortening the lengths of connectors to present components closer to one another.

The various operations of which zooming consists are:

·                    Zooming in to show the details of an individual component only. The most detailed zoom level for a component in vector format occurs when the component is covering the entire display. The users can request to zoom once more into the details of the bitmap image that underlies the vector representation of a component. This way they can visually scan the original image, if they need to confirm details of the component. This is also a way to test the system for its credibility, that is, whether or not it performs well with respect to the interpretations it makes for the components.

·                    Zooming out the whole diagram, showing more and smaller components in proportion.

·                    Zooming out while using abstraction, replacing groups of components with their higher-level substitution units (i.e. subsystems).

·                    Zooming out while using detail elimination, removing components of lesser importance (e.g. those connected with dashed lines).

When zooming out, a combination of these operations must give a consistent way of presenting the content to the user. As described in subsection 6 (Clutter Identification and Avoidance), a strategy that combines these operations to perform the zooming-out operation consistently involves them one at a time. First the operation that zooms out the whole image is employed until clutter occurs; then, abstraction is performed replacing groups of components; finally, detail elimination removes components of lesser importance.

As a last point, we should mention that in both panning and zooming we use auxiliary operations, such as determining whitespace, shifting the window and bringing components inside the viewing window, whenever possible.

3.         Navigation and Interactivity

The users have many navigation options: they can pan or zoom or they can select entities for more specific options. In the following paragraphs, we summarize these options and suggest ways of making navigation more effective by giving many options to the user.

The usual way of requesting panning operations is by selecting appropriate arrows located at the borders of the viewing window. Apart from the specialized navigation arrows, there are other ways to request navigation operations. By selecting an entity, the user can request more complex operations. We will discuss this for three types of entities: connectors, components and textual annotation marks. We should note that the selection of an entity could be, by itself, a hard problem due to the limited ways of interactivity in some devices (e.g. mobile phones).

When the user selects a connector, that could mean to bring the component at the other end of the connector into the viewing window, if possible; otherwise move the window to include that component. An alternative option is, every time the user selects a connector, to present an instant window box that shows the component at the other end and provides options such as "move to the component", "zoom-out to include the component" or "just close the window".

When the user selects a component that represents a condensed subsystem, it could mean to expand this component to the subsystem that it represents. When this component includes condensations in multiple subsystem levels, the expansion should reveal only the next level. An alternative option is to present an instant window box that again (as in the connector case) will provide multiple options, such as "zoom", "expand" or "center the window on this component". If the user selects a component in the context map window, the option is to center the viewing window to that component.

When the user selects a textual annotation mark, it should expand to a box that includes the underlying text. This box should remain active and visible for a predefined period of time (e.g. thirty seconds) and then it should condense back to the special mark. If the user selects the box while it is active, another window may appear providing options, such as "stay open" or "close".

Another way for the user to interact with the content is to select two points on the window and thus form a bounding box. Then the user may select one of the options that the system displays for convenience. It is interesting that, with this interactivity method, a user can manually select multiple components and condense them to a subsystem, based on locality. This can be very useful in situations where the user decides that some components should not be displayed expanded either because they are of less value for the maintenance task at hand, or because they form a coherent unit. Some of the options the system may provide are: "condense", "hide – never show again", "always show".

Finally, a new approach concerning the way a user interacts with the content is proposed for devices with only basic input capabilities: We may use the numeric pad (keys #1 – #9) for navigation, in combination with different "clicking" patterns for different purposes. For instance, single click may be used for the image re-centering or "panning" (key #3 would center on the upper-right corner, for example); double click may be used for zooming in; continuous pressing could be used for zooming out.

With all these options, it is likely that a user might get confused. With proper testing, some of these options will be proved ineffective, while the potential users might suggest other options as well. A good strategy to escape this confusion is to start with only a subset of these options active; then, as time passes and the users become more familiar, introduce the rest of the options so that the users customize their environments to their particular needs and preferences. These preferences would be saved at the client and passed to the server each time the user makes a request. Users do not need to execute any of these operations, as they are options provided for convenience and usability improvement, not for resolving ambiguities in diagram understanding.

 

E.        THE CLIENT APPLICATION PROGRAM

In this section we will discuss the required operations that a client application must perform to be able to participate in this content repurposing system. To these required operations, we will also include desired operations that, although not specifically needed, would enhance the interaction with the server and would make the system more efficient.

We need a client application program that will request specific diagrams and present the images sent by the server, in response to the requests, together with all the navigation-aid tools (e.g. arrows). The client will have to provide the URL of the server for its profile, will have to support the various image formats and will have to support interactivity based on the user's selection of entities or areas of interest. It is also desirable to communicate with the server in an encoded (compressed) scheme that will save bandwidth and make the transmissions less vulnerable to bandwidth shortages (vector graphics is one such compressed format). If we want to support these operations, we need special client software that must provide at least for image presentation, interactivity and connectivity. It must be robust and light.

One approach is to download the entire electrical diagram once, in vector graphics format, and store it on the small device. Vector graphics are intrinsically compressed, so they do not require much space even for large diagrams. Then the display software would need to do the repurposing and present the entities within a certain window. A benefit of this approach is that when users zoom or pan, many of the same entities will remain in the display window and will not need to be processed much again. Also the network will be used once for each diagram, only in downloading the vector graphics format, eliminating the constant need for exchanging information with the server. The drawback is that this approach requires a significant amount of processing power and memory on the client. This approach is basically the opposite of the light client and requires special software for each platform, making developing and maintenance harder. In our design, we prefer the option of the light client that depends on the network connectivity with the server. To compensate for the bandwidth requirement we need special encoding schemes and compressed image formats.

The biggest problem with respect to the available bandwidth is the transmission of images. The more compressed the image is transmitted, the less bandwidth it consumes. Unfortunately, there are a lot of disadvantages too, when dealing with compressed images. Compression and decompression are operations that require resources and processing time both in the client's and in the server's side.

There is one more option we can use for this kind of application. Since electrical diagrams consist of monochrome, sparsely arranged graphics of which most are straight line segments, vectors are almost perfect to describe them. Vector-graphics languages are compact by nature therefore they need less bandwidth for transmission. On the other hand, the client application that will present them will need to render them first, which takes processing time and resources.

There is no easy solution for the client problem, as there is always a tradeoff between processing power and bandwidth. In this section we do not provide a design for the client; we merely discuss some needed operations, the problems that need to be solved and the options we have for the image format.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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V.      DISCUSSION

A.        CONCLUSIONS

In this thesis, we have attempted to design a system to understand the semantics of electrical diagrams and construct internal representations of them in an off-line process. Then an on-line process uses these representations for real-time repurposing of those electrical diagrams, adapting the diagram content for presentation on small-screen handheld devices, taking into consideration the specific profile of each device.

In the off-line part, we have used novel techniques to parse the diagrams and we have dealt with the recognition and identification of most of the various constructs found in electrical diagrams of the schematic type. We have focused on the schematic type since it is more suitable for maintenance tasks. In the on-line part, we have proposed a general strategy for adapting the content for small screens, and we have presented methods and techniques for concentration of diagrammatic information, inspired by the analogous efforts made previously in the summarization of textual, Web and multimedia content. We have tried to foresee the difficulties of navigation through content presented in a small screen and we have included some navigational aids in our design to help potential users keep knowledge of orientation and context.

 

B.        FUTURE WORK

The design we propose is by no means complete. The major weakness of our work is the lack of results that would evaluate the system we propose. Consequently, future work should test the validity of the features that we propose and grade the significance of each feature. A method to do this is to construct training and testing sets. By machine-learning methods, even more features may be discovered.

A weakness in the approach we propose for identifying components and connectors is that it is not very efficient with components that include sloped or curved lines like triangles or diamonds. This is because these components do not clearly form tau-connections with their connectors. Future work may solve this problem.

Also, we have presented the features by which we can identify characters and dashed lines, but have not provided any specific method. Recognition of such patterns has been addressed by previous work. Finding text in images has been discussed in (Fletcher & Kasturi, 1988); for recognizing texture or patterns in images, complicated computer vision techniques have been devised (Russell & Norvig, 2003). Future work must select a method.

In our work we have referred to the internal representation of the diagram semantics, but we have not specified a detailed scheme for this representation. We have also not mentioned anything about the indexing of the database that stores this internal knowledge. We have left these issues open because we think that many schemes can serve this purpose. Nevertheless, we have provided the pieces of information that is needed to be recorded or accessed each time. We believe that XML is well suited for this, but we feel that an XML-based representation scheme may be a bottleneck in the performance of the real-time, on-line adaptation process. Future work will have to try different schemes and evaluate them in terms of clarity and efficiency.

Finally, we presented a set of rules in which every rule adds one vote for every entity. By evaluating and grading the importance of these rules, we can assign different weights to each rule and progress to a more probabilistic scheme. For example, each type of connection can present two or more hypotheses on the types of the connected line segments. There are different probabilities for each hypothesis; we can calculate a rough estimate of these probabilities by examining a fair amount of sample cases where each type of connection occurs. The task of calculating these probabilities is subject to future work.

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INITIAL DISTRIBUTION LIST

1.                  Defense Technical Information Center

Ft. Belvoir, Virginia

 

2.                  Dudley Knox Library

Naval Postgraduate School

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3.                  Dr. Neil C. Rowe

Naval Postgraduate School

Monterey, California

 

4.                  Dr. Gurminder Singh

Naval Postgraduate School

Monterey, California

 

5.                  DI.K.A.T.S.A.

Inter-University Center for the Recognition of Foreign Academic Titles

Athens, Greece