Expert systems: newest brainchild of computer science

by Ann M. Shoben

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A journalistic account of a week-long workshop on expert systems in San Diego in August 1980. Expert systems are computer programs that seek to combine expert knowledge about a domain with expert methods of conceptualizing and reasoning about that domain. The decisionmaking power of such programs rests upon a knowledge base that puts together factual information about the domain with the heuristics used to find solutions to problems. The conference was organized along two converging lines--conceptual issues and implementation of the systems. Eight two-man teams attempted during the week to develop eight different expert systems, built around the problem of an accidental spill of oil or chemicals at a specific facility. The process and results of the team efforts are described. Prepared as an article for [RAND Research] [Review].

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