Oracle Fusion's Advanced Constraint Technology
Oracle Fusion's advanced constraint technology (ACT) is an Oracle Fusion Applications common component for modeling and solving complex combinatorial problems using constraint-based algorithms. Currently, the ACT engine is utilized by Oracle E-Business Suite Configurator 12.1. It also provides a foundation for solving other types of combinatorial problems including planning, scheduling, price optimization, and transportation management. With ACT, products can leverage state-of-the-art constraint technology. ACT provides a rich modeling language for problem specification and a state-of-the-art solver for identifying solutions. Developers model their business problem by defining the variables, constraints and heuristics. ACT then applies patented algorithms to methodically reduce the search space until a solution is found.
Director, Advanced Constraint Technology Research and Development
Location: Burlington, Massachusetts
Product: Oracle Advanced Constraint Technology
Q: Why is ACT innovative?
A: While constraint technology is a well-established and diverse area of research, many of the existing systems and techniques are tailored for solving moderate-sized and static problems. The types of problems that need to be addressed by Oracle Applications customers require a system specialized for large-scale, dynamic, and interactive solutions. Our team has spent considerable time investigating various areas of constraint research, combining and expanding upon the ideas presented, and scaling the performance to meet the demands of real-world business applications. This has led to the submission of 20-plus patents on core constraint technology and on interactive, dynamic, constraints-based techniques and applications.
Applications that leverage ACT are developed more quickly, thus decreasing the time-to-market and ultimately allowing end users to make informed decisions that provide greater control over their business. Wide adoption of an internally developed constraint-technology solution with a strong foundation in constraint programming eliminates the amount of coding and testing that needs to be done, reduces risk such as solution errors, and ultimately eliminates dependence on third-party solutions that may be discontinued.
Q: How is it unique?
A: The ACT group's constraint solution currently used in Oracle Configurator helped place Oracle Configurator product in a leading position. In 2007, Gartner published a MarketScope for Sales Configuration [3Q07, G00150194] naming Oracle Configurator as a market leader—the only strong-positive among all competitors. The technology promoted and developed by the group was instrumental to this success, as it allowed Oracle Configurator to position itself in the space. The Oracle Fusion Configurator engine is in 100% Java and tightly integrated into Oracle Fusion technology to provide enhanced memory management for improved performance. It also enables partial configurations to be completed automatically and improved search heuristics.
Q: What's the most innovative project or product you've worked on?
A: Developing the ACT components has been a dynamic process that has resulted in an innovative product. Our team explored many fields of research, openly challenged ideas, integrated differing technologies, and collaborated to develop a robust and powerful product. We actively identified process improvements and employed tools and techniques to ensure a timely and efficient development schedule. We strive to create a supportive environment that is globally beneficial for all team members.
Q: What would you call the enemy of innovation?
A: Poor process. Innovation requires time and resources for dedicated focus, which must be found amongst many priorities. Poor process implies bugs, delays and frustration, leaving little time, energy, or even motivation to consider the new. Innovation relies on a bedrock of process that efficiently ensures quality and delivery.
Q: What do you think sets apart innovative people?
A: Being generous and open with ideas. Clearly disseminating one's ideas invites feedback that improves and accelerates their evolution. But beyond this, being generous implies putting ideas in the hands of colleagues, allowing them to participate and even take ownership. Consider the parallels to providing software platforms for others to develop on, or adding value to cloth by turning it into a garment. The benefits to the team, and organization, multiply.