For more than 30 years, knowledge-based product configuration systems have been successfully applied in many industrial domains. Correspondingly, a large number of advanced techniques and algorithms have been developed in academia and industry to support different aspects of configuration reasoning. While traditional research in the field focused on the configuration of physical artefacts, recognition of the business value of customizable software products led to the emergence of software product line engineering. Despite the significant overlap in research interests, the two fields mainly evolved in isolation. Only limited attempts were made at combining the approaches developed in the different fields.

In this presentation, I first aim at giving an overview of commonalities and differences between software and physical product configuration. I then identify opportunities for cross-fertilization between these fields and finally develop a research agenda to combine their respective techniques. Specifically, I emphasize how feature models, originally rooted in the software world, can build upon advances in physical product configuration to leverage automated configuration across these fields.

About the author