Javalanche: An Avalanche Predictor

This article introduces a prototypical avalanche-predicting software package implemented with a Fuzzy Logic algorithm.
Possible Future Work

Here we discuss two topics as possible improvements:

  • Refining and extending the Javalanche application

  • Replacing make_init_file.java with a user language and translator

To refine and extend the Javalanche application would require field testing and model refinement/enhancement by an active avalanche control group. The earlier portion of this paper identified various other important input parameters which we will investigate. Even if this does not prove feasible, we believe we have made a case for the use of Fuzzy Logic in avalanche prediction.

The approach using make_init_file.java serves to isolate/modularize the specific application, but is not user-friendly. A preferable approach is to allow a user to employ a simple editor to create a text file containing the application-specific details. This is to be written in a language designed specifically for this purpose (a user-specific language). This is then run through the translator whose output is an initialization file, functionally similar to fz_init.dat. The translator can provide a very important feature not provided by make_init_file.dat. In particular, the translator will check the text file written by the user for any errors which are not intrinsically run-time errors. This could then be used by an avalanche control group whose personnel need not be programmers and must merely learn a descriptive text modeling system based on terms familiar to them.

The translator could also produce a second set of files appropriate for producing graphical views (e.g., using gnuplot) of the fuzzy sets for the user. The designing, implementation, and testing of the translator will most likely be assigned as a homework project for students in the compiler design course at Eastern Washington University. This task could be accomplished in a straightforward manner using flex and bison, compiler construction tools available within Linux. There are also Java versions of these tools for Linux which may be mature by now.

Richard Sevenich (rsevenich@ewu.edu) is a Professor of Computer Science at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA. He is also a part-time ski patroller at Schweitzer Mountain near Sandpoint, Idaho. His computer science interests include Fuzzy Logic, Application-Specific Languages and Parallel, Distributed, Real-time Industrial Control. He is an enthusiastic user of Debian/GNU Linux.

Rick Price has avalanche control and prediction experience from his many years of work as a full-time ski patroller at Schweitzer Mountain. He typically keeps an active log of the snowpack conditions and history, supported by field data such as snowpack and avalanche records. Over the years he has attended various avalanche courses and clinics. More recently, Rick has become a middle school teacher in the Bonner County School District in Idaho, retaining a part-time involvement with the Schweitzer Ski Patrol. He can be reached at debbyprice@hotmail.com.

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