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The purpose of this page is to document specific infrastructure support systems and tools that either don't currently exist and ought to (and why), or that already exist in some form (along with descriptions of how they could be improved), or that exist and work to help roboticists (in which case you should provide a link or citation). This is a wiki page and can be edited by logged in members.


This section is for infrastructure support systems or tools that don't yet exist, with an explanation of why they should.

Catalog of Capabilities - Much like the Dewey Decimal System (original document, current maintainer) and the Library of Congress Classification system (outline, details) were developed to aid librarians in organizing their collections and to aid library patrons in locating specific books within them, robotics could use a cataloging system to aid middleware communities in organizing their developed and contributed software libraries and to aid developers in locating the capabilities they need for a given system. Creating a catalog would be a lengthy and probably acrimonious task, but could provide significant benefits to the community as a whole by improving communications across languages, across application areas, and across disciplines.

Capability Search Tool - Once a catalog of capabilities is available, this catalog could be used to index the connections between various capabilities and the context in which they are used. If the context in which the capabilities function can itself be categorized (which is likely to be a fundamental result of the capability cataloging process), those categories could be used to generate filtering mechanisms. Just as flight reservation sites use time, date, airline, and trip properties (e.g. overnight flights, length of layovers, total elapsed time in transit) categories to enable the user to locate and select the desired combination of flights, this tool would use capability category properties such as vehicle maneuverability, task type, environmental assumptions, and sensor types to enable the developer to locate and select the desired capability as represented in the catalog. If individual algorithms or software libraries are tagged with the relevant categories from the catalog, it would enable developers to search for existing implementations or approaches to the specific capability desired rather than attempting to find relevant work using potentially misinterpretable keywords alone.


This section is for infrastructure support systems or tools that exist, with a short summary of their function and a link to either the system/tool or to documentation of it.

Springer Handbook of Robotics - This book is a good first step towards providing the kind of categorization needed to enable developers to recognize their work in the larger context of robotics. While providing an excellent overview of various topics within robotics, no single book has room to capture the diversity of individual algorithms and software instantiated by roboticists.

Cool Stuff

This section is for infrastructure support systems or tools the need for which has been mitigated through capabilities added to existing tools.

Temporal keyword search - I used to think that Google Scholar needed some form of temporal keyword evolution maps, like bibliometric mapping, but with a temporal component. You would type in a keyword and a date, and a tree of terminology over time would come up, showing how your keyword evolved into related current papers. Instead of taking a cluster of papers and grouping them by topic, it would take temporally segmented clusters and display the closest keywords along a timeline. Those of us who graduated a while ago have discovered that as you focus on your job (outside of academia at least) your awareness of the terminology describing the portions of the research community you used to be familiar with gradually degrades. Eventually, outside whatever you're currently working on, you only know the keywords that were used to describe what you worked on ten or twenty or thirty years ago, and don't know what the current keywords are. It's possible to get caught in loops and whorls of keyword experimentation, trying to figure out what that thing that you remember being a thing twenty years ago is called now (if it is still a thing) or what it was called before it stopped being a thing. A tool like this would allow those who have older expertise to find the current state of the art research by figuring out the current keywords quickly and easily. But Google Scholar's "cited by" function lets you at least travel forward along specific chains. It won't find you researchers who aren't connected to the older papers you know how to find, but at least you'll be able to find some subset of the appropriate keywords in less than the several days that it used to take.

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Page last modified on March 23, 2016, at 11:41 AM