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In order to cater to the diversity of terminals and networks, efficient, and flexible adaptation of multimedia content in the delivery path to end consumers is required. To this end, it is necessary to associate the content with metadata that provides the relationship between feasible adaptation choices and various media characteristics obtained as a function of these choices. Furthermore, adaptation is driven by specification of terminal, network, user preference or rights based constraints on media characteristics that are to be satisfied by the adaptation process. Using the metadata and the constraint specification, an adaptation engine can take an appropriate decision for adaptation, efficiently and flexibly. MPEG-21 Part 7 entitled Digital Item Adaptation standardizes among other things the metadata and constraint specifications that act as interfaces to the decision-taking component of an adaptation engine. This paper presents the concepts behind these tools in the standard, shows universal methods based on pattern search to process the information in the tools to make decisions, and presents some adaptation use cases where these tools can be used.