Roger Martin Tagg

 
Hello - this page is just to introduce myself and my background.

Family

I was born on 9th November 1941, around 7:50 am, at 4 Milton Road, Oundle, Northamptonshire, England. No hospitals were involved - just the District Nurse and my mother, Olive Muriel (née Elliott, known to everyone as "Mike"). My father, Eric Donovan Tagg, was a mathematics teacher at Oundle School, and later a lecturer at Lancaster University.

Education

I attended the Oundle Church of England ("Coffee") Primary School from 1946 until 1950, when I went as a boarder to St Faith's School, Cambridge until 1954. I then boarded at Mill Hill School in northwest London until 1959. After spending 4 months with a steel company in Glasgow, Scotland, I returned to Cambridge to read Mathematics, based in Clare College. I took my BA in 1962 - this was upgraded to an MA in 1966.

Working career

My working life started in 1959 with the steel company, Stewarts and Lloyds, where I assisted with Organisation and Methods and Operational Research (OR) studies. Other long vacations were spent in 1960 with the National Coal Board (UK)'s OR group known as FIG; in 1961 programming computers with Ferranti in London; and in 1962 deputising for absent Oundle teachers, teaching Statistics and Physics.

After leaving Cambridge, I went back to the Coal Board, spending 3 years with the OR group in London  and 2½ as a Programmer and Systems Analyst with the Board's computer centre in Cannock, Staffordshire in the English Midlands. In 1968 I became a consultant with a London-based IT consultancy, originally called C-E-I-R and later Scicon. I spent a total of 12 years with Scicon, before branching out on my own in 1980 as an independent consultant, specializing in Databases and Business-based Information Strategy Planning (ISP). During my time as a freelance, I did some work subcontracted to Scicon, Hoskyns, James Martin Associates and Oracle.

After a stint as a Visiting Academic at Massey University (in Palmerston North, New Zealand) in 1991-2, I decided to make the move into academia. I did another short spell at Massey in 1993, then became a full-time lecturer there from 1994 until mid-2000. From then until the end of 2009 I was also a lecturer, at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, Australia.

The tools of my trade

I guess you could say that I have operated essentially as an Applied Mathematician, the field of application being primarily business operations and management. As a consultant in industry, I specialized variously in Operational Research, Systems Analysis, Project Management, Databases, Information Strategy Planning, Query Languages and Distributed Systems. The industries I was most associated with were Oil and Chemicals, Health, Insurance and Finance.

In OR I was involved in applications of Integer Programming, a form of Linear Programming where the parameters are not continuously variable, but are subject to discrete "steps".

Getting involved in databases in the mid 1970s was my big opportunity. As a consultant, I helped companies who were adopting the IDMS database software package. The primary task was to build models of the "real world" to which the databases referred, as a stage in the process of designing and building these databases. I then began to specialize in business-based Information Strategy Planning (ISP), which was then very much based on the "database" view of the organization's business. In the early 1990s, however, fashions switched to starting from a "process-oriented" view, and hence I became involved in process and workflow modelling.

Apart from the above, my technical history is like that of many contemporaries - Systems Analysis and Design, and programming with typical mainframe languages (yes, including COBOL). I dabbled - but never became fully conversant with - object-oriented approaches.

For those to whom it matters, I can boast some letters after my name, namely:
    MA (Cambridge) MBCS CEng CITP
- although the last 3 are all contingent on my involvement with the British Computer Society!

Teaching

Coming from a family of teachers - my mother was also a teacher and my two brothers also - I have always had some inclination for teaching, even if I managed to avoid it for 30 years. Even as a consultant, I did lecturing stints on public courses, mainly for Pergamon Infotech and Xephon. Later on I was often used as a chairman for courses on which the majority of attendees were from overseas.

As a university lecturer, I started by teaching mainly Databases and Distributed Systems, later extending to Systems Implementation, Database Applications and Workflow. I had to develop most of the teaching material myself. material. When I started at UniSA in July 2000, I taught Software Engineering, and developed two new courses Information Systems Maintenance and Re-engineering and Inter-Enterprise Computing. At the time of my retirement I was teaching Workflow Management and Systems Design, and was also part of the team managing final year student projects.

The numbers of students on these courses varied enormously over my time in the job; starting from an average of 40 in a final year class, there were times when class size reached 250 (more when up to 200 external students were included). In recent years, however, numbers dropped back to around 50.

Research Interests

Over a 50 year career, my research interests have varied a lot, but in later years they crystallized around two primary areas: Personal Information Management and Group Work Support.

In earlier stages of my career, I was involved with developments in Databases, particularly in the areas of Database Administration and Query Languages. My interest in the latter area widened into the more general topic of "End User" facilities. I spent 4 years as my company's representative on the CODASYL Data Description Language Committee, which was primarily US-based. I was also involved with several British Computer Society groups and chaired groups on Query Languages, Integrated End User Systems and Object Oriented Data Management.

Following up the theme of the End User's involvement with IT, I became involved with what is now called Personal Information Management. In the last 5 years, my main project was Virtual Private Secretary. The aim was to investigate a range of tools that can help individuals and groups suffering under "information overload". The approach was to better prioritize the actions and "tasks" which users need to perform, rather than being swamped by an avalanche of email and other requests of very variable importance. A primary means of supporting such a facility was the elicitation - and maintenance - of a user's personal ontology (augmented of course by the ontologies of the groups in which the user participates). This research led to a number of recent papers at conferences.

On Group Work Support, I was an active member of the CreWS (Creative Work Support) project within the Information Systems Laboratory (InSyL) at UniSA, which was led by Profs Paul and Paula Swatman. This area incorporated earlier work that I had done in the areas of Workflow Management and Business Process Modelling. Earlier, between 1996 and 1999, I led the development of a Lightweight Workflow Server that can control basic task scheduling and work passing, in an environment where participants have no standard software facilities other than common Internet tools. After this, I spent some effort looking at ways of supporting the natural flexibility that characterizes process management in practical situations.

As a retirement project, I have been working on development of a Relationship-Oriented Ontology, named FROLIO. This has involved building a website which explains the ideas and component concepts, and which lists a number of common relationship types between people, things and abstract concepts, organized under (currently) 12 major categories. These categories - and their sub-categories - attempt to capture not just simple "factual" relationships, but also relationships covering communication, motivation, desire and utility. Relationships are not usually binary, but have multiple "roles". If you are interested in learning more, please click this link.

For a list of my publications, follow this link.

Travel

My upbringing and career has led to my being very much involved in travelling, and as sidelines, in maps and architecture. My working life has enabled me to do more travelling than I ever dared to expect. I have worked in Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and New Zealand as well as the UK and Australia. My involvement with the Codasyl DDLC prompted several travels in North America. With my wife, I also lived for 2 years in Tehran, Iran - and as a result published a guide book Travels with a Paykan - which could still be found on Amazon recently.

Home life

I am fortunate in having been married now for over 40 years to Sue (Susanne) who graduated in Economics and Politics and has diplomas in Secretarial Science and Adult Education. She worked for some years as an investment analyst in the City of London. We don't have a family ourselves, but have quite a number of wide-spread relatives.

I try to keep fit by swimming and tennis. I also sing in a choir - having done so since the age of 8.

We currently live in the wonderful suburb of Magill, around 8 km east of the centre of Adelaide, and just below the face of the Mount Lofty Ranges, which are the southern extension of the Flinders Ranges.