1 November 2019

TRACY: A Revolutionary Layout Engine That Makes Sense

1 November 2019

TRACY: A Revolutionary Layout Engine That Makes Sense

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DOT–traditional layout algorithm

As a customer-driven team, the UiPath Process Mining team strives to provide the best process graph visual to deliver maximum usability for business users.

 

We started exploring the market and found out that most players in the process mining industry use the same visualization algorithm—DOT graph description language. Since its development in 1988, process mining vendors have widely used it.

 

Despite its strong foothold in the market, the DOT layout algorithm has several disadvantages:

 

1. DOT doesn’t look at the event log, it only considers how activities are connected (which doesn’t provide all the information).

 

2. It’s limited to creating a snapshot of the process based on the information given at that moment, although it delivers a good picture of the process with minimal cross lines.

 

3. Any extra tiny change in your process will give a completely different look at the process graph. DOT algorithm creates a completely new snapshot that doesn’t consider model information.

 

4. You need extra tools, like animation, to track the changes, since the DOT algorithm doesn’t allow you to see them correctly.

 

Overall, the DOT algorithm is very suitable for a so-called point-to-point process.

 

Processes that cross system and team lines, with many handoff points challenge the DOT algorithm.

 

These traditional graphs might look simple. But they do not show an accurate and easy-to-understand picture of process complexity, and real-time process changes.

 

TRACY–Creating the process mining algorithm of the future

Our team strives to simplify the graph visualization and the user interaction that goes with it.

 

We believe that simplified visual data representation allows users to analyze complex datasets and draw conclusions that you couldn’t draw otherwise, and much faster than before.

 

As the biggest feature of a recent Process Mining release, we have proudly introduced the TRACY algorithm. Or as our team likes to call it: “The layout engine that makes sense.”

 

Robin Mennens, Product Manager at UiPath was the primary researcher and developer of TRACY during his master’s thesis at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), which was supervised by Roeland Scheepens, Software Engineer Manager at UiPath. As a matter of fact, TRACY is one of the few research projects that has been applied in business, making a big impact in a relatively short time.

 

The journey of TRACY started a couple years ago when the team realized that while there were numerous research papers written on process mining algorithms, there were none on one of the most important aspects of process mining: visualization.

 

How does TRACY work?

TRACY uses the whole event log from your process to provide a more stable layout.

 

1. It makes sense

The algorithm looks at the whole event log and tries to understand how the entire process was formed. It brings earlier activities to the top of the process model, and those that happen later to the bottom of the process model. The resulting layout looks similar to how you would draw the process by hand and therefore is easy to understand.

 

2. TRACY keeps your graphs stable

TRACY also keeps the graph stable over changes in selection. This means that the overall shape will stay the same all the time and you will be able to see the core activities in the process. In other words, the mental map of the process is the same, no matter how you look at it, or the changes you make. This leads us to the next advantage–animation.

 

3. TRACY is animated

When you change your selection, the graph changes seamlessly from one stage to the other. With the stable layout of TRACY, the resulting changes are minimal compared to before. In addition, a very functional algorithm animates the changes, so a user can see how cases pass through the process and where bottlenecks and rework occurs.

 

4. Fast. Simply fast.

We have tested the speed of both algorithms—DOT and TRACY—to make sure that TRACY is significantly faster. The process can be twice the size of what it used to be, with a lot more detail and more precise insights, and still be faster than the traditional algorithm.

 

Conclusion

TRACY algorithm is already integrated into the latest version of AppOne, Process Mining’s standard application — so all the users are now able to go through the visual process model quicker and more efficiently.

 

Additionally, the algorithm has officially acquired patent-pending technology status, which gives promising prospects of its regular use across the industry in the near future.

 

Again, there are no more messy curves or unaligned activities–what you see now on the screen is how you would imagine the process in your head.

 

Now, isn’t it great?

 

If you would like to see TRACY in action, check out the demo video below or contact our team.

 

Happy mining!

 

 

 

Daliya Khussainova is a Global Demand Generation Program Manager at UiPath.


by Daliya Khussainova

TOPICS: process mining

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