Merging in a Collaborative Environment

Sponsors: IBM and NSF Information Technology and Organizations Program (IRI-9627619)

Researchers : Prasun Dewan, Jon Munson

Description : The need to merge different versions of an object to a common state arises in collaborative computing due to several reasons including optimistic concurrency control, non-WYSIWIS coupling, absence of access control, latecomers, and mobile computing. Current systems either support restricted forms of merging or require programmers to completely implement merge procedures. The hypothesis of this research is that it is possible to automatically generate a large variety of merge procedures from high-level specifications of these procedures. This research is investigating several issues that must be resolved to establish this hypothesis including simultaneous merging of an arbitrary number of objects, merging of user-defined objects, real-time merging of user-interface objects, merging in a mobile environment, abstractions for specifying merge procedures, and the relationship between merging and other collaboration functions such as concurrency control. It is using an experimental method wherein the new concepts are implemented and used in validation experiments. If successful, it will allow merging to become a common operation in a collaborative environment without requiring significant application-specific programming.