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Max Haifei Li

Research activities are an important part of my job as a professor. For many years, I have conducted research independently and collaborated with other researchers, professors and students all over the world. My research has brought positive economic and academic impacts on both the national and the international levels. I have more than 20 publications and my research results have been built into commercial products. Currently I am actively involved in research activities such as academic conference organization, journal and conference paper reviewing and editing, and independent research. My research interests are e-learning, database, e-commerce, automated business negotiation and business process management.

I have been working with Professor Qinghua Zheng, a professor at Xi'an Jiaotong University for many years. I have visited Xi'an Jiaotong University twice after I gradated there in 1990. I have collaborated with him to write papers that have been published in conferences and journals. Recently, I have worked in an open source project called EAS (Electronic Attendance Sheet) to automatically sign up students when they are in classroom.

Database is my favorite topic since I was a graduate student at the University of Forida. My advisor Dr. Stanley Y. W. Su has been the director for the Database Center at the University of Flordia for many years. Right now, I am teaching database course at Union University. I am using MySQL as the database engine. In addition, I added PHP as an element of the database course. As a result, my course is really PHP/MySQL for undergraduates.

E-commerce (i.e., e-business) is a growth engine of the global economy. The dotcom crash does not invalidate the overall success of e-commerce. Actually the crash may help the long-term growth of e-commerce by getting rid of ill-formed technical ideas and unrealistic business plans. In order to ensure the healthy growth of e-commerce, there are many research issues to be tackled. My graduate research study at University of Florida and my post-doctoral research at IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center are focused on E-commerce. Specifically, I have been pursuing research in privacy, BPM (Business Process Management), business negotiation and application integration.

Privacy is one of the most important reasons why people avoid e-commerce despite the huge benefits brought by e-commerce. In the conventional view of provider-consumer relationship, providers dictate what information consumers should provide and consumer is powerless. We argue that the consumer should have a way to negotiate with the provider about the nature of private information to be revealed. We call it “privacy negotiation”. In addition, we argue that we need a mechanism to monitor whether the providers actually comply with the “privacy policy” they have promised. We call it “privacy monitoring”. The combination of privacy negotiation and privacy monitoring becomes a powerful framework for information privacy protection. The initial result of the work has been published in IEEE Conference on Electronic Commerce (IEEE CEC 2004).

At IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, I have developed an XML Schema-based language called BPCL (Business Process Commitment Language) to specify business commitments. Unlike contracts and SLAs, BPCL includes commitments from multiple parties. Therefore, it is possible to perform global optimization. I also introduced the concept of KPI (Key Performance Indicator) to designate the things to be monitored and controlled. At the lower level, probe points are defined to provide the raw data needed to compute KPIs. Once KPIs and their associated threshold are available, business commitments can be defined based on these KPIs and thresholds. The language and associated components provide a scalable and extensible infrastructure for business process configuration, monitoring and control. Our research results have been published in several conference papers. Recently, we have positioned BPCL as the language for BAM (Business Activity Monitoring). According to the Gartner Group, the market for BAM will be one billion dollars in 2004. Many companies, including IBM, are aggressively pursuing this market.

In my Ph.D. dissertation “Automated E-Business Negotiation: Model, Life Cycle, and System Architecture,” I have proposed a negotiation model to link business negotiation policies with business negotiation strategies. I have also proposed a negotiation life cycle model in the dissertation. Although the models provide insights into business negotiation, there are still many open issues for business negotiations. How to conduct one-to-many negotiation based on many bi-lateral negotiations? How to coordinate these negotiations? How to simulate business negotiations? How to make concessions based on my own preference, counterpart’s actions, and the business environment?

My work for application integration is an extension of my Master’s thesis “Modeling and Validation of Business Object Documents for Application System Integration.” My master’s thesis is a rule-based approach to application integration. In the future, I would like to combine rule-based approach with agent-based approach to have a comprehensive framework for application integration.

Services computing is the evolution of Internet computing toward a services oriented architecture. By services oriented, we mean that businesses will purchase functionality in chunks. Rather than buying software for permanent in-house installation, companies will buy services as needed, much like they pay for an airline ticket as opposed to having a company jet on standby. My interests in services computing are how to apply services computing model in the BPM (Business Process Management) environment.

Computer Ethics deals with the impacts of computers, especially the Internet, on computer professionals and ordinary users. There are many aspects of the impact: social, legal, philosophical, constitutional, and economic. One aspect that I am especially interested in is the ethical issues related to E-commerce. Sometime ago, Amazon.com tested a differentiated pricing model. Although Amazaon.com later abandoned the test, but the ethical question remains: it is ethical for an online vendor to give different prices of the same kinds of items to different users? Sometime ago, a Marine was killed in Iraq and the Marine’s family wanted to have access to the email account. However, the family member’s request to Yahoo was rejected because of the privacy concern. Does Yahoo do a good thing, or it has it gone too far?

Being an assistant professor at a privileged university like Union University, I am greatly encouraged by the leaders of Union and the excellent quality of our students to further my research on E-business/E-commerce and other areas. Meanwhile, my teaching activities have been a great source of inspiration on my research studies.