The DEAT Business Rule Pattern Language

Russell R. Hurlbut, Ph.D.

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Rule Pattern 27: Self-Modification

Problem Describing Reflective, Self-Modifying Behavior

Business rules may be defined with varying binding strengths. Contracts constitute an agreement enforceable by law. Directives are orders or authoritative instructions with specific authority. Practices represent a principal or accepted rule governing the procedures followed by an organization. Plans indicate a scheme or method of action for obtaining a specific goal. Opinions signify a belief of judgement that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty [Nass91]. The higher the binding strength, the less likely that the rule would be overridden or ignored. Additionally, the authority for the rule's creation influences its enforcement.


Binding strengths and proponents may be used to set conditional thresholds that determine under what circumstances a rule may be turned on or off. A rule conforming to the Self Modification business rule pattern can be considered a meta-rule that controls the nature of other rules. Although these declarative rules are implementation independent, the scope magnitude for certain rules may have such a significant impact on the environment that reconfiguration or recompilation of components may become necessary. In such cases a mapping of event to components can be defined.

Binding strength can play a major factor in the introduction of new rules. For example, the imposition of a federal regulation may nullify a departmental practice. The transfer of proponents from one functional area to another may place implicit reconfigurations on a business process that reflects their authority level and personal bias for workflow.

Example Quality Control

A claims processing application is monitored by a quality control team. Each new adjustment calculation is audited. If each of the last fifty items passed inspection, then the inspection process in modified to only inspect ten percent of the items until another error is detected. The key parameters for this rule pattern are identification of a condition and target configuration component.
Quality Control Parameters
Condition last 50 pass inspection
Target Configuration Component Random 10% parameter set


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