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  • Research published in the International Journal of Simulation and Process Modelling shows how integrated simulations can be used to optimize a pharmaceutical production line in a way that conventional mathematical modeling cannot.

    Ahmad Taher Azar of Prince Sultan University, in Riyadh, KSA, and colleagues built their simulation using data and information from a working production line and then utilized the simulation to generate putative inputs and outputs for a range of production scenarios to show how they might be optimized for different resources and products. "This is the first study in which an integrated simulation DEA is used for the performance optimisation of a pharmaceutical unit," the team writes.

    The simulations showed six bottlenecks that reduce efficiency and slow production. These were brought into the simulated, verified and validated simulations so that they might be expunged from particular production scenarios. The simulations could then be combined in such a way to generate the optimal setup for any of more than 40 scenarios that the engineering team on a production line might face. Critically, any one of the many factors can affect overall efficiency and so a holistic approach has to be taken to reduce overheads and ensure the most efficient and effective approach.

    Habibifar, N., Hamid, M., Bastan, M. and Azar, A.T. (2019) 'Performance optimisation of a pharmaceutical production line by integrated simulation and data envelopment analysis', Int. J. Simulation and Process Modelling, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp.360–376.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSPM.2019.103587

  • As tastes and trade change, so the proactive marketing department must reinvent its brands and what they might refer to as their "offering". Writing in the International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business, a research team from Australia discusses how the once entirely desirable wines of the Hunter Valley region have now become part of a bigger gastronomic landscape to keep pace with trends and continue to sell their wines and other produce.

    Sidsel Grimstad and Jennifer Waterhouse of the University of Newcastle, New South Wales and John Burgess of RMIT University in Melbourne, Victoria explain how resilience and transformation have been applied to create "a little bit of La Dolce Vita" in the region.

    Hunter Valley is a small national producer but is, the researchers suggest, a strong custodian of the region's wine identity. "The importance of having regional identity 'custodians' such as the old wine families that ensure that the landscape maintains the rural aesthetic, creates embedded institutions that benefit both old and new entrants," the team writes. They add that "new entrants may be considered a risk, they also provide a continuous stream of creative solutions and investments, leading to continuous improvement of quality and luxury provision of wine and gastronomy sensory experiences."

    The team's case study shows that wine-tourism in the Hunter Valley region is strong and more resilient because it has regenerated itself into a gastronomic landscape where lifestyle, food, wine, and tourism complement each other, the team says. "Through this, the Hunter Valley manages to maintain its lead among the top Australian destinations for both national and international wine and food tourists," they conclude.

    Grimstad, S., Waterhouse, J. and Burgess, J. (2019) ''Creating a little bit of La Dolce Vita'. Explaining resilience and transformation in the Hunter Valley wine region, NSW, Australia', Int. J. Globalisation and Small Business, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp.359–380.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJGSB.2019.103589

  • Ulla Hakala and Birgitta of the Sandberg Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Finland, and Marta Zurawik of Wigan, UK, have investigated electronic word-of-mouth, so-called e-WOM in the context of a relatively new recreational sport, Nordic walking. They hoped to reveal how positive and negative emotions affect e-WOM. Their hypothesis underpinning the study suggests that there is limited knowledge of emotional sharing concerning novel recreational activities.

    At the moment, the team explains, there is limited knowledge on emotional sharing concerning novel recreational activities, ones that some – whether participant or observer – might perceive as embarrassing in some way. They have analysed the online discussion surrounding Nordic walking in different countries and found that there are positive and negative views about the activity as one might expect.

    "Our understanding of the contagion of emotions in social encounters is limited and the effect of discrete emotions on changes in physical activity behaviour remains largely unexplored," the team writes. Their work sets out to explore the emotional response to novel recreational activities and to set a context for the study of eWOM with respect to such activities. They suggest that their work is "the beginning of a journey to explore the social sharing of emotions and the role of social media in sharing opinions and experiences on engagement in novel physical activities."

    Zurawik, M., Hakala, U. and Sandberg, B. (2019) 'Positive and negative emotional spirals in e-WOM of new recreational sports: a case study on Nordic walking', Int. J. Leisure and Tourism Marketing, Vol. 6, Nos. 3/4, pp.254–278.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJLTM.2019.103564

  • The concept of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking came to the fore as part of the movement that led to the freeing up of digital information although it gained considerable notoriety when it was hijacked for the purposes of illicit and illegal file sharing. However, it remains an important concept in distributing upload and download bandwidth among users with large files to distribute and P2p networking is used by many different tools with perfectly legitimate applications.

    Writing in the International Journal of Reasoning-based Intelligent Systems, a team from India points out that for efficient use of a P2P network it is best if users that are a short hop from each other in terms of internet connectivity are clustered together. This can reduce the total burden on system resources and bandwidth by precluding the sending of packets of data across non-optimal transfer distances. The team of S. Vimal at the Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology, in Chennai, and S.K. Srivatsa of MIT at Anna University also in Chennai, India, have shown how a clustered P2P network that utilizes a file-replication algorithm can boost efficiency still further.

    The team describes their approach as a "nearness and interested cluster (NIC) super peer network. The interests and categorized "sub-interests" of peers are used to cluster them according to the most likely of digital commodities that they might be anticipated to share.

    Vimal, S. and Srivatsa, S.K. (2019) 'A file sharing system in peer-to-peer network by a nearness-sensible method', Int. J. Reasoning-based Intelligent Systems, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.293–299.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJRIS.2019.103510

  • Siwar Khemakhem, Mouna Rekik, and Lotfi Krichen of the Control and Energy Management Laboratory at the National Engineering School of Sfax, in Tunisia, are investigating the potential of home energy management based on plug-in electric vehicle power control in a residential smart grid.

    Writing in the International Journal of Digital Signals and Smart Systems, the team explains how the advent of electric vehicles has shifted the pressure to some extent from power supply based filling a tank with a liquid or gas fuel at a station to generally charging one's vehicle from home. As more and more drivers switch to electric vehicles there is a need to make the supply of power smarter. The team has now proposed an optimal charge/discharge power management algorithm that can be used in residential areas and takes into account smart grid technology.

    "The purpose of this control strategy is to ensure the energy flow exchanging between plugin electric vehicles and smart home to improve the energy efficiency and to achieve a flattened power load curve," the team writes. Their algorithm finds the optimal approach to charging for off-peak and home-to-vehicle power supply. It also looks at how to cope when charging is needed during peak electricity demand periods. Simulation of the algorithm shows that it is capable of smoothing the power load curve and making the smart grid stable and secure by switching between four operating modes where discharging electricity from the vehicle's batteries occurs when demand is high but charging is boosted during off-peak times.

    Khemakhem, S., Rekik, M. and Krichen, L. (2019) 'Home energy management based on plug-in electric vehicle power control in a residential smart grid', Int. J. Digital Signals and Smart Systems, Vol. 3, Nos. 1/2/3, pp.173–186.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJDSSS.2019.103369

  • Bauhaus artist, Paul Klee (1879-1940) had a unique abstract style nodding, by turns to Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. Now, computer scientists from China and the USA are working together to create an algorithm that can mimic the style of the Swiss-born artist. Their research adds to the oeuvre that is known as generative art.

    Writing in the International Journal of Arts and Technology, Hanqing Zhao of Tianjin University, and Kang Zhang of The University of Texas at Dallas discuss how they have used their personal assessment and computer analysis to study Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook created in his later years. Having analysed the colour and composition of Klee's paintings, the team has used a computer to generate with randomly adjusted parameters of compositions and palette, two generative artworks in the style of Klee.

    The team explains that the scalable framework they have developed offers a novel paradigm for the generation of abstract images. The team suggests that generative art of this type can have its place as an art form in its own right. Moreover, by providing a non-invasive way to analyse and then describe original artistic works it might be a useful tool for those studying traditional, albeit modern or abstract, paintings.

    "Other researchers could extend this framework on other abstract paintings' styles," the team writes. "We hope that our work inspires both artists and computer scientists for further research on new media art and design."

    Zhao, H. and Zhang, K. (2019) 'Modelling and generating abstract images of Paul Klee style', Int. J. Arts and Technology, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.380–392.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJART.2019.103490

  • What is the key to happiness? More to the point, is there a universal skeleton key that city dwellers could use to unlock happiness? Writing in the aptly named International Journal of Happiness and Development, a Canadian team finds the answers.

    When it comes to happiness, it is difficult to predict what might make a person feel that way, regardless of the received wisdom with regards to wealth, health, and other factors. Indeed, Kenneth Cramer of the Department of Psychology at the University of Windsor in Windsor Ontario and Rebecca Pschibul of Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, suggest that higher creativity, optimism, longevity, and lower hostility and self-centredness, are good markers of happiness. But, they wonder whether such factors are universal. As such, they have carried out a study of several large urban centres around the world to find out.

    The team looked at various elements of city life including economics, culture and education, income, safety, living conditions, city administration, health, city pride, and the self-reported level of happiness. It seemed that each urban centre had a different overall makeup in terms of these antecedents to happiness. Apparently, there is no universal key. In general, health was the greatest common predictor of happiness (especially among men) with pride in one's city second on the list, and, perhaps surprisingly, household income.

    Ultimately, the team did not find a skeleton key to unlock happiness, there is, they explain "little support for the invariance (generalisability) hypothesis". They point out that rather than attempting to find a one size fits all solution across the globe, much within reach is a greater understanding of the relevant elements that could be used to promote greater quality of urban life in specific regions.

    Cramer, K.M. and Pschibul, R. (2019) 'Finding the skeleton key to happiness: evaluating model invariance of subjective well-being in a comparison of large urban centres worldwide', Int. J. Happiness and Development, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp.257–278
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2019.103402

  • Writing in the International Journal of Learning and Change, researchers explain how more than a million unauthorised immigrants and refugees entered Europe in 2015. Unfortunately, there are many delays facing those with a legitimate claim to seeking asylum. Many people are also rejected for a wide variety of reasons and various factors have encouraged many migrants to bypass the legal routes. They enter Europe and travel through it illicitly in land vehicles being smuggled across borders and into and through their chosen European country often without being noticed. This often ends tragically for many of those seeking a new life in another country as we have seen very recently in the news.

    Aidas Vasilis Vasiliauskas and Ieva Meidutė-Kavaliauskienė of the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, Virgilija Vasilienė-Vasiliauskienė and Margarita Marija Lietuvnikė of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University have looked at the economic costs of illegal immigration on European road freight transport companies operating in the corridor between France and the United Kingdom.

    "Taking into consideration that road freight transport is the main mode of transport ensuring the functioning of logistics system in Europe, the consequences may surely be serious: disruption in the processes of supply, production and distribution, cargo delays or failures to arrive, interrupted factory operations, losing cooperation with clients," the team writes. There is an ever-pressing need for the private and public sectors to work together to find a way to address the problem of illegal migrants. Solutions could save lives as well as reduce the detrimental effects on companies and their employees involved in freight between France and the UK.

    Vasiliauskas, A.V., Vasilienė-Vasiliauskienė, V., Lietuvnikė, M.M. and Meidutė-Kavaliauskienė, I. (2019) 'Risks of illegal migration and associated damage to transport companies. The case of the corridor France – UK', Int. J. Learning and Change, Vol.11 No.3, pp.289-304
    DOI: 10.1504/IJLC.2019.10023025

  • Evaluating a patient's ability to perform daily activities is critical to successful nursing and healthcare, particularly in the elderly. Such an assessment is a powerful predictor of so-called morbidity, or how much the patient is affected detrimentally by their symptoms. New research in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing is looking to develop a machine learning approach that can address the task of recognising a patient's different activities in a smart home.

    Salima Sabri and Abdelouhab Aloui of the Université de Bejaia in Algeria have evaluated their approach by comparing it to a Markov statistical approach and using several performance measures over three datasets. "We show how our model achieves significantly better recognition performance on certain data sets and with different representations and discretisation methods with an accuracy measurement that exceeds 92% and accuracy of 68%," they report.

    The team explains how context-aware systems are coming to the fore in healthcare research for monitoring the negative symptoms of an aging population without the need for undue invasiveness on the part of healthcare workers. Classification based on well-known and well-established indicators might now be incorporated into an automated system to show how well a patient can care for themselves or whether intervention is needed to assist them in coping with their symptoms.

    Sabri, S. and Aloui, A. (2019) 'A new approach for the recognition of human activities', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp.211–223.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2019.103259

  • A positive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) can only be made definitively post mortem. However, there are many symptoms that become apparent as the disease progresses and specialists can usually be quite certain of a diagnosis. However, as with many diseases, the later the diagnosis, the less successful medical interventions will generally be. New research published in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, offers an approach to earlier diagnosis of AD.

    Gang Lyu of the Changshu Institute of Technology, in Suzhou, Jiangsu, and Aimei Dong of Qilu University of Technology, in Jinan, Shandong, China, explain that neuropsychological testing of patients suspected of having AD has many advantages, primarily in that it is a non-invasive and low-cost approach. However, there is a need for the manual selection of features and this makes the approach unpopular. An automated approach to extracting and selecting features from text would be more conducive to an acceptable way to provide evidence of the condition to the expert clinician.

    The team has now developed an algorithm that utilizes the "bag-of-words model" of natural language processing technology. This can extract all the vocabulary features from text and then a genetic algorithm selects the lexical features automatically. They have now tested their approach on the DementiaBank database and obtained almost 80 percent diagnostic accuracy, which compares favourably to manual feature-based methods.

    "The new approach also has the ability to process data quickly and automatically, which can greatly help clinicians improve their work," the team concludes.

    Lyu, G. and Dong, A. (2019) 'Automatic selection of lexical features for detecting Alzheimer's disease using bag-of-words model and genetic algorithm', Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 61, No. 4, pp.306–311.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.2019.103290


Editor in Chief of International Journal of Multicriteria Decision Making becomes Honorary Doctor for University of Western Macedonia

Prof. Constantin Zopounidis, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Multicriteria Decision Making, has recently been appointed as Honorary Doctor at the University of Western Macedonia's School of Economics. Further details are available here.

International Journal of Banking, Accounting and Finance increases issues

The International Journal of Banking, Accounting and Finance has announced that it will be increasing issues from two to four from 2020 onwards.

New Editor for International Journal of Multivariate Data Analysis

Associate Prof. Pietro Amenta from the University of Sannio in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Multivariate Data Analysis.

New Editors for International Journal of Technoentrepreneurship

Prof. Hermenegildo Gil Gómez from Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain has been appointed as the new Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Technoentrepreneurship. He will be joined by a new Executive Editor, Prof. Domingo Enrique Ribeiro-Soriano of Universitat de València.

New Editor for International Journal of Reasoning-based Intelligent Systems

Prof. Jair Minoro Abe from Paulista University in Brazil has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Reasoning-based Intelligent Systems.