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Dr Brian Drabble

PositionLecturer in Operations Management
LocationCartwright Building, Room 2.08
DepartmentSchool of Management
Feedback HoursMonday 14:00-16:00
Telephone01274 238939
LinkedInVisit my LinkedIn profile

Research Interests (key words only)

Process Management, Intelligent Planning and Scheduling, Network Analysis and Supply Chain Management.

PhD Supervision

Brian has successfully supervised three PhD candidates from the School of Informatics (Previously the Department of Artificial Intelligence) at the University of Edinburgh. The focus of the research was the development of representation models and research techniques for intelligent planning and scheduling. He has also successfully supervised PhD candidates from the Computer Science Department of the University of Oregon in the areas of intelligent planning, logic based representation and games theory. He is currently undertaking a supervision role for several PhD and DBA candidate in the School of Management. The foci of their research is primarily in supply chain management, the impact of technologies on business processes and agile program management.

Brian welcomes prospective students who are interested in researching any aspects of operations management as generally outlined in the research interests section above. 

Teaching and Supervisory Responsibilities

Brian teaches on a range of undergraduate and masters level courses in the areas of operations management and information systems.


  • Level 4: Operations and Information Systems Management (in collaboration with Dr Zahid Hussein)
  • Level 5: Resource Planning for Operations
  • Level 6: World Class Operations
  • Level 5: Research Methods (Morrisons Degree)
  • Level 5: Decision Support A


  • Level 7: Distance Learning MBA, Operations Management
  • Level 7: Executive MBA, Dubai, Operations Management

Brian is currently developing a new 20 Credit Level 5 Module in World Class Operations and this will be presented for the first time in Semester 1 of the Academic Year 2017-2018. He is also involved in the development of a Operations and Information Systems Management module that will form part of the Advanced Apprenticeship program with Morrisons. Again this will be presented for the first time in September 2017.

Administrative Responsibilities

Brian is a member of the following committees: o REF 2020 Sub-Committee.


Brian joined the Operations and Information Management Group in July 2016 as a Lecturer in Operations Management. Previously, he was Chief Technology Officer of two research and development companies in the US focusing on intelligent planning and scheduling. Prior to his involvement in the commercial sector he was a Senior Research Scientist and Director at the Computational Intelligence Research Laboratory at the University of Oregon and a Senior Research Scientist at the Artificial Intelligence Research Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh. 

Professional History

Brian graduated from the University of Staffordshire with a honours degree in Computer Science. He immediately began is PhD studies at the University of Aston where his thesis focused on the development of intelligent tools to support planning and execution in complex process driven environments. On completion of his PhD studies he moved to the University of Edinburgh where he was involved in a number of intelligent planning and scheduling projects. These were funded by groups including Hitachi, Toshiba, European Space Agency and the UK Government. Success in these projects lead to a move to the US where he continued his research into intelligent planning and scheduling tools. These were primarily focused in the military and intelligence domains with support from a wide range of commercial and government sources. 

Research Areas

Brian's research interests are focused on the development of representations and reasoning techniques for automated planning and scheduling tools for operations management. These approaches focus on the development and analysis of dependency based networks that provide a "system of systems" approach to the modelling of people, organizations, locations, resources, concepts, etc involved in businesses and business processes. The analysis of such networks provides insights and guidance into ways in which they could be improved to increase network efficient, reduce over dependence on certain key nodes or to increase overall network robustness. Options and changes to bring about changes in network behavior are identified and developed using a range of intelligent planning tools. These provide a spectrum of support to the operation manager from pure manual tools through mixed initiative tools to one that can generate solutions with human intervention or guidance.

Brian's research interests also focus on the development of ontologies to support business collaboration and cooperation. The development of these ontologies supports the extraction, mapping and fusion of information from multiple disparate sources (databases, webpages, documents, etc.) into coherent and systematic model of an enterprise or business. The fused information and any subsequent updates are used to drive the dependency analysis and planning tools described previously. 

Current Projects

Brian has worked on a range of intelligent planning and scheduling projects supported by organizations including DARPA, Air Force Research Laboratories and the Naval Postgraduate School. Support from these organizations lead to the development of the O-Plan intelligent planning system at the University of Edinburgh and the DEOS intelligent planning system at the University of Oregon. These organizations also provided support for the research and development of the Cassandra integrated network analysis and planning tool. Brian was also a key member of the design team on the ISPAN project for USSTRATCOM. This was a $650 million project to upgrade and develop the planning, scheduling and analysis capabilities where Brian developed the designs for key components including plan optimisation, generic plan representations and Effects Based Planning. Currently Brian is developing research projects with several multi-national defense companies both here in the UK and in the US. The primary focus is on fusion of network analysis and intelligent planning to support supply chain management and the disruption of inter-dependent networks.

Research Collaborations

Collaborative Project with BAE, "Dynamic automated logistics planning/tracking/prediction" to support last mile resupply This project will start at the end of August 2017. 


  • Member of the Institute of Engineering Technology Chartered Engineer


Drabble, B., (2013), Dependency based collaborative design, Proceedings of the Collaborative Technologies and Systems Conference (CTS 2013), (pp. 266-272). May 21-25, 2013, The Commons Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA: IEEE.

Drabble, B., “Dependency Network Based Planning, Understanding the True Effects of Plans and Actions”, Proceedings of the 34th Workshop of the UK Planning and Scheduling Special Interest Group (PlanSIG), University of Huddersfield, December 15-16 2016.

Tate, A., Drabble, B. and Kirby, R. O-Plan2: An Open Architecture for Command, Planning and Control, in Intelligent Scheduling (Zweben. M. and Fox. M.S.), 1994. Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann, Palo Alto, CA, USA.

Drabble, B. (2014). Modeling C2 Networks as Dependencies: Understanding What the Real Issues Are. In T. Grant, R. Janssen, & H. Monsuur (Eds.) Network Topology in Command and Control: Organization, Operation, and Evolution (pp. 125-151). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-6058-8.ch006

Drabble, B., (2015), “Dependency-based collaborative design: a comparison of modeling methods”, Journal of Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., DOI: 10.1002/cpe.3445. Published online: 19 MAR 2015,

Drabble, B., “Excalibur: A Program for Planning and Reasoning with Processes” Artificial Intelligence Journal, Vol 62, No 1, pp1-40, July 1993.

Tate, A., Drabble, B. and Dalton, J., “The Use of Condition Types to Restrict Search in an AI Planner”, in the proceedings of the Twelfth American National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-94), August 1994, Publisher: The American Association for Artificial Intelligence.

Drabble, B. and Tate, A., “The Use of Pessimistic and Optimistic Resource Profiles to Inform Search in an Activity Based Planner”, in the proceedings of the Second International Conference on AI Planning Systems, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, June 1994, Publishers: The American Association for Artificial Intelligence, Menlo Park, CA, USA.

Drabble, B. and Tate, A., O-Plan: A Situated Agent, in the proceedings of the Third European Workshop on Planning (EWSP-95), Assisi, Italy, September, 27-29, 1995. In New Directions in Planning (eds. Gallib, M. and Milani, A.), Frontiers in AI Applications Series, No 31, IOS Press, Amsterdam, 1995.

Drabble, B., Tate, A. and Dalton, J., “Repairing Plans on the Fly”, in the proceedings of the First NASA Workshop on Planning and Scheduling for Space, October 1997, Mandalay Beach Resort, Oxnard, CA.

Jarvis, P., Lydiard, T.J. and Drabble, B., “Realizing Real Commercial Benefits from Workflow: A Report from the Trenches”, in the proceedings of the Sixteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-99) workshop on Agent Based Systems in Business, 20th July, 1999, Orlando, FL, USA.

Berry, P.M. and Drabble. B,. “SWIM: An AI Based System for Workflow Enabled Reactive Control”, in the proceedings of the Sixteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-99) workshop on Workflow and Process Management, 1-2 August, 1999, Stockholm, Sweden.

Drabble, B., “Task Decomposition Support to Reactive Scheduling”, in the proceedings of the 5th European Conference on AI Planning, Durham, UK, 8th-10th September 1999.

Berry, P.M. and Drabble, B., “SWIM: An AI Based System for Organization Management” in the proceedings of the Second International NASA Workshop on Planning and Scheduling for Space, San Francisco, CA, 16th-18th March 2000.

Drabble, B. and Najam-ul Haq, “Dynamic Schedule Management: Lessons from the Air Campaign Planning Domain”, in the proceedings of the 6th European Conference on Planning, Toledo, Spain, September 12th-14th 2001.

Drabble, B., McCrabb, M. and Haq, N., (2006), Dependency Based Vulnerability Assessment, Final Report, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA Order U051-16, Contract No: W41P4Q-06-C-003, Washington DC, USA.

Drabble, B., Black, T., Kinzig, C. and Whitted, G., (2009), Ontology based dependency analysis: Understanding the impacts of decisions in a collaborative environment, Proceedings of the Collaborative Technologies and Systems Conference (CTS 2009),  (pp. 10-17), Baltimore, MA, USA: IEEE.

Drabble, B. and Kinzig, C., (2010), The information triad: Collaborating across structured and non-structured information, Proceedings of the Collaborative Technologies and Systems Conference (CTS 2010), (pp. 255-264), Chicago, IL, USA: IEEE

Drabble, B., (2011), Dependency based collaboration: Ontology based information management, Proceedings of the Collaborative Technologies and Systems Conference (CTS 2011), (pp. 579-586), Philadelphia, PA, USA: IEEE.

Drabble, B., (2012), Information propagation through a dependency network model, Proceedings of the Collaborative Technologies and Systems Conference (CTS 2012), (pp. 266-272). Denver, CO, USA: IEEE.

Drabble, B (2016), ““Reasoning about Unknown Objects and Dependencies in C2 Networks Using Value of Information”, Proceedings of the 21st International Command and Control Research and Technology Symposium (ICCRTS 2016), IET Building, Savoy Place, London UK., 6th – 8th September 2016.

Drabble, B., and Schattenberg, B., “Transforming Complex Business Challenges into Opportunities for Innovative Change - An Application for Planning and Scheduling Technology”, Proceedings of the Planning and Scheduling Workshop (PuK 2016), 39th German Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Klagenfurt, Austria, September 26th -30th, 2016. 


Brian has undertaken consultancy projects with local organizations to help improve their IT systems and business processes. The outcomes of these efforts have resulted in changes that have released capacity previously tied up with non-value added activities and have allowed organizational growth targets to be met or exceeded. In addition, changes to the IT infrastructure created a more seamless integration of systems providing for a more efficient and less stressful working environment.

Public/Academic/Stakeholder Engagement

Brian is currently engaged in out reach efforts with Bradford City Council to identify sources of data in the council with respect to emergency preparedness and incident management. This will provide a conduit to show how research methods and techniques funded and developed in the US could be utilised to aid the local community in mitigating the effects of natural and human instigated events.

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