Posts Tagged ‘Expert Systems’

PostHeaderIcon Steps to Create an Expert System

The process of creation of an expert system requires careful planning. It is common to acquire an expert systems tool, i.e., shell, instead of developing the inference engine from the scratch. The steps involved in the creation of expert system are listed below.

Step 1: Select a domain and a particular task
a) Choose a task that an expert can do well.
b) The performance of the task should be related to both breadth and depth of knowledge.
c) The facts and rules should be stable.

Step 2: Select the expert system shell for implementation
a) Choose the type of inference control required.
b) Choose the type of pattern-matching capability required.
c) Decide whether certainty factors are necessary
d) Start building a prototype system

Step 3: Acquire initial knowledge about the domain and the task
a) Identify the knowledge experts
b) Select particular problems associated with each task
c) Obtain, record and cross-check factual knowledge from both reference material and experts
d) Obtain and record task-related rules from the experts and confirm them as far as possible
e) Prepare a set of test cases

Step 4: Encode the knowledge using the appropriate representation
a) Factual knowledge
b) Inference knowledge
c) Control knowledge

Step 5: Execute and test the knowledge
a) Evaluate the test cases
b) Be alert for problems with consistency and completeness

Step 6: Refine the current knowledge and acquire additional knowledge
a) Revise the rules as necessary
b) Modify any facts that need revision
c) Augment the system with information on additional domain tasks and test again
d) Repeat as often as necessary

Step 7: Complete any necessary interface code
a) Demonstrate the system
b) Make the system user-friendly

Step 8: Document the expert system
a) Provide on-line and hard-copy documentation as necessary
b) Document the consultation portion especially well
c) Document the knowledge portion to the degree necessary

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What is Expert System?

Rule based Expert System

PostHeaderIcon Rule Based Expert Systems

Rules are the popular paradigm for representing knowledge. A rule based expert system is one whose knowledge base contains the domain knowledge coded in the form of rules.

Elements of a rule based expert system

A rule based expert system consists of the following components:

User Interface

This is a mechanism to support communication between and the system. The user interface may be a simple text-oriented display or a sophisticated, high resolution display. It is determined at the time of designing the system. Nowadays graphical user interfaces are very common for their user-friendliness.

Explanation facility

It explains the user about the reasoning process of the system. By keeping track of the rules that are fired, an explanation facility presents a chain of reasoning that led to a certain conclusion. So explanation facility is also called justifier. This feature makes a huge difference between expert systems and other conventional systems. almost all the commercial expert system shells do trace based explanation, that is, explaining the inferencing on a specific input data set. Some systems explain the knowledge base itself, and some explain the control strategy as well.

Working memory

This is a database used to store collection of facts which will later be used by the rules. More effort may go into the design and implementation of the user interface than in the expert system knowledge base. Working memory is used by the inference engine to get facts and match them against the rules. The facts may be added to the working memory by applying some rules.

Inference Engine

As the name implies the inference engine makes inferences. It decides which rules are satisfied by the facts, prioritizes them, and executes the rule with the highest priority. There are two types of inference: forward chaining and backward chaining. Forward chaining is reasoning from facts to the conclusion while backward chaining is from hypothesis to the facts that support this hypothesis. Whether an inference engine performs forward chining or backward chaining entirely depends on the design which in turn depends on the type of problem. Some of the systems that do forward chaining are OPS5 and CLIPS. EMYCIN one of the most popular systems performs backward chining. Some systems, ART and KEE, for example, offer both the techniques. Forward chaining is best suited for prognosis, monitoring and control. Backward chaining is generally used for diagnostic problems. Inference engine operates in cycles, executing a group of tasks until certain criteria causes that halt the execution. The taks to be done repeatedly are conflict resolution, act, match and check for halt. Multiple rules may be activated and put on the agenda during one cycle.


Inference engine prepares a priotorized list of rules called agenda. The rules in the list must be satisfied by the facts in the working memory. When the inference engine notices a fact that satisfies the pattern in the condition part of the rule then it adds the rule to the agenda. If a rule has mulitple patterns then all of its patterns must be satisfied to get place in the agend. In a condition a>b and b>c, for example, both a>b and b>c must be satisfied. A rule whose patterns are satisfied is said to be activated or instantiated. When there is more than one activated rule in the agenda then the inference engine has to select one rule, based on priority or on other factors, for firing. Rule based expert systems are built using refraction to prevent trivial loops. That is a rule which is fired on a fact will not be fired again and again on the same fact. To implement this feature OPS5 uses a unique identifier called timetag. Then-part of the rule contains actions to be executed when the rule fires. Some of the actions are addition of facts to the working memory, removal of facts from the working memory and printing results. Agenda conflict occurs when different activations have the same priority. Agenda conflict is tackled by strategies such as first come first execute, assigning default priority, and so on.

Knowledge Acquisition Facility

This allows the user to enter knowledge in the system thereby avoiding the need of knowledge engineer explicitly code the knowledge. It is an optional feature on many expert systems. Simple rules can be created using rule induction. In rule based expert systems, knowledge base is also called production memory as rules in the form of if-then are called productions.

Advantages of Rule based Expert Systems

Modular nature: This allows encapsulating knowledge and expansion of the expert system done in a a easy way.

Explanation facilities: Rules make it easy to build explanation facilities. By keeping track of the rules that are fired, an explanation facility can present a chain of reasoning that led to a certain conclusion.

Similarity to the human cognitive process: Newel and Simon have showed that rules are the natural way of modeling how humans solve problems. Rules make it easy to explain the structure of knowledge to the experts.

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Artifical Intelligence

PostHeaderIcon Expert Systems

What is Expert System?

Expert system is an artificial intelligence program that has expert-level knowledge about a particular domain and knows how to use its knowledge to respond properly. Domain refers to the area within which the task is being performed. Ideally the expert systems should substitute a human expert. Edward Feigenbaum of Stanford University has defined expert system as “an intelligent computer program that uses knowledge and inference procedures to solve problems that are difficult enough to require significant human expertise for their solutions.” It is a branch of artificial intelligence introduced by researchers in the Stanford Heuristic Programming Project.

The expert systems is a branch of AI designed to work within a particular domain. As an expert is a person who can solve a problem with the domain knowledge in hands it should be able to solve problems at the level of a human expert. The source of knowledge may come come from a human expert and/or from books, magazines and internet. As knowledge play a key role in the functioning of expert systems they are also known as knowledge-based systems and knowledge-based expert systems. The expert’s knowledge about solving the given specific problems is called knowledge domain of the expert.

Components of Expert Systems

Figure: Expert System

Figure: Expert System

Basic Concept of an Expert System Function

The expert system consists of two major components: knowledge base and inference engine.

Knowledge base contains the domain knowledge which is used by the inference engine to draw conclusions. The inference engine is the generic control mechanism that applies the axiomatic knowledge to the task-specific data to arrive at some conclusion. When a user supplies facts or relevant information of query to the expert system he receives advice or expertise in response. That is given the facts it uses the inference engine which in turn uses the knowledge base to infer the solution.

Characteristics of Expert Systems

High performance: They should perform at the level of a human expert.

Adequate response time: They should have the ability to respond in a reasonable amount of time. Time is crucial especially for real time systems.

Reliability: They must be reliable and should not crash.

Understandable: They should not be a black box instead it should be able explain the steps of the reasoning process. It should justify its conclusions in the same way a human expert explains why he arrived at particular conclusion.


A shell is a special purpose tool designed based on the requirements of particular applications. User should supply the knowledge base to the shell. Example for the shell is EMYCIN (Empty MYCIN) shell. Shell manages the input and output. It processes the information given by the user, relates it to the concepts contained in the knowledge base, and provides solution for a particular problem.

Advantages of Expert Systems

Availability: Expert systems are available easily due to mass production software.

Cheaper: The cost of providing expertise is not expensive.

Reduced danger: They can be used in any risky environments where humans cannot work with.

Permanence: The knowledge will last long indefinitely.

Multiple expertise: It can be designed to have knowledge of many experts.

Explanation: They are capable of explaining in detail the reasoning that led to a conclusion.

Fast response: They can respond at great speed due to the inherent advantages of computers over humans.

Unemotional and response at all times: Unlike humans, they do not get tense, fatigue or panic and work steadily during emergency situations.

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