Getting started in Expert Systems

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Jeffrey Jacobs

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Oct 12, 1986, 3:18:22 PM10/12/86
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> l...@galbp.UUCP
> Lisa Meyer has requested information on expert systems, PD and PC related
> tools.

Lisa,

I suggest that you start with Waterman's "A Guide to Expert Systems", as
well as looking in your University book store and local commercial
book stores and computer stores. This will give you a working bibliography
to pursue.

Most tools listed in the Waterman book are public domain and can often
be obtained from the respective institution for a nominal price (usually of a
tape).

Periodicals include IEEE Expert (quarterly), AI Expert (monthly), SIGART
(ACM Sig on AI), and AI Magazine (AAAI, quarterly). Also, see the July 86
issue of Computer (IEEE Computer Society).

There are a number of PC tools and languages available. Best place to look
is Byte magazine and various PC magazines. There are a number of LISPs,
PROLOGs and a good Smalltalk available. TI has SCHEME and 2 levels
of Personal Consultant. Insight-2+ has also received good reviews.

For Public Domain PC software, I suggest the CompuServe Information
Service (CIS). There is a Forum sponsored by AI Expert magazine which
has a great deal of PD tools. It's also a great place for getting information
oriented towards PC's.

Also, the following BBS'es:

Boston, Mass. (Common Lisp Group) (617) 492-2399
Woodbury, Conn. (203) 263-5783


Jeffrey M. Jacobs
CONSART Systems Inc.
Technical and Managerial Consultants
P.O. Box 3016, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(213)376-3802
CIS:75076,2603
BIX:jeffjacobs
USENET: well!jjacobs

Jeffrey Jacobs

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Oct 12, 1986, 3:26:35 PM10/12/86
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I. What is "understanding", or "ducking" the issue...

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and
quacks like a duck, then it is *called* a duck. If you cut it open and
find that the organs are something other than a duck's, *then*
maybe it shouldn't be called a duck. What it should be called becomes
open to discussion (maybe dinner).

The same principle applies to "understanding".

If the "box" performs all of what we accept to be the defining requirements
of "understanding", such as reading and responding to the same level as
that of a "native Chinese", then it certainly has a fair claim to be
called "understanding".

Most so-called "understanding" is the result of training and
education. We are taught "procedures" to follow to
arrive at a desired result/conclusion. The primary difference between
human education and Searle's "formal procedures" is a matter
of how *well* the procedures are specified . Education is primarily a
matter of teaching "procedures", whether it be mathematics, chemistry
or creative writing. The *better* understood the field, the more "formal"
the procedures. Mathematics is very well understood, and
consists almost entirely of "formal procedures". (Mathematics
was also once considered highest form of philosophy and intellectual
attainment).

This leads to the obvious conclusion that humans do not
*understand* natural language very well. Natural language processing
via purely formal procedures has been a dismal failure.

The lack of understanding of natural languages is also empirically
demonstrable. Confusion about the meaning
of a person's words, intentions etc can be seen in every
interaction with your boss/students/teachers/spouse/parents/kids
etc etc.

"You only think you understand what I said..."

Jeffrey M. Jacobs
CONSART Systems Inc.
Technical and Managerial Consultants
P.O. Box 3016, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(213)376-3802
CIS:75076,2603
BIX:jeffjacobs
USENET: well!jjacobs

"It used to be considered a hoax if there *was* a man in the box..."

lad...@kestrel.uucp

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Oct 13, 1986, 6:07:54 PM10/13/86
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In article <19...@well.UUCP>, jja...@well.UUCP (Jeffrey Jacobs) writes:
> Mathematics is very well understood, and
> consists almost entirely of "formal procedures".

I infer from your comment that you're not a mathematician.
As a practicing mathematician (amongst other things), I'd
like to ask precisely what you mean by *well understood*?

And I would like to strongly disagree with your comment that
doing mathematics consists almost entirely of formal procedures.
Are you aware that one of the biggest problems in formalising
mathematics is trying to figure out what it is that
mathematicians do to prove new theorems?

Peter Ladkin
lad...@kestrel.arpa

Jeffrey Jacobs

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Oct 14, 1986, 10:39:29 PM10/14/86
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In <13...@kestrel.ARPA>, Peter Ladkin writes:

>In article <19...@well.UUCP>, jja...@well.UUCP (Jeffrey Jacobs) writes:
>> Mathematics is very well understood, and
>> consists almost entirely of "formal procedures".

>I infer from your comment that you're not a mathematician.
>As a practicing mathematician (amongst other things), I'd
>like to ask precisely what you mean by *well understood*?

I'd like to answer precisely, but one of the problems with
English, as opposed to mathematics, is the difficulty of answering
precisely. Let me instead give you an example; which do
you understand better, a proof of a theorem, or the lead
story in today's paper, describing why the summit, (which
wasn't a summit), failed?

I don't intend to imply that the field of mathematics is
in any way *completely* understood or running out of new things
to do.

>And I would like to strongly disagree with your comment that
>doing mathematics consists almost entirely of formal procedures.

What you are disagreeing with is a misinterpretation on your part.
I didn't use the term "doing mathematics", and didn't intend to. I
was speaking on the nature of what it is that mathematics consists of.

"doing mathematics"has many aspects; it may be a "canned"
procedure, or it may be an incredibly tough, creative, intuitive
effort.

>Are you aware that one of the biggest problems in formalising
>mathematics is trying to figure out what it is that
>mathematicians do to prove new theorems?

That's not a problem in mathematics, it's a problem in psychology!

The end result of mathematics is "formalism"; well defined, algorithmic
procedures to transform a set of symbols into a different set of symbols
(or to describe the transformations, etc). It is much more rigorous
and well defined (aka understood) than other realms of human
endeavor (such as psychology, or even physics).

>Peter Ladkin
>lad...@kestrel.arpa

"He only thought he understood what I wrote :-)"

Peter Ladkin

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Oct 16, 1986, 5:51:18 PM10/16/86
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In article <19...@well.UUCP>, jja...@well.UUCP (Jeffrey Jacobs) writes:
> [..] which do

> you understand better, a proof of a theorem, or the lead
> story in today's paper, describing why the summit, (which
> wasn't a summit), failed?

If the theorem is the Four Color Theorem, Friedman's theorem
on the four-sphere, or any of many others,
then I understand the newspaper story much better.

What do you intend to conclude from your example?

> >Are you aware that one of the biggest problems in formalising
> >mathematics is trying to figure out what it is that
> >mathematicians do to prove new theorems?
>
> That's not a problem in mathematics, it's a problem in psychology!

Have you heard of the `definition' of mathematics as whatever it
is that mathematicians do?

> The end result of mathematics is "formalism"; well defined, algorithmic
> procedures to transform a set of symbols into a different set of symbols
> (or to describe the transformations, etc). It is much more rigorous
> and well defined (aka understood) than other realms of human
> endeavor (such as psychology, or even physics).

So mathematics consists of procedures?
Neither theorems nor proofs are procedures.
Should I conclude from this that theorems and proofs are not
mathematics?
Or should I conclude that you don't really mean this?

Peter Ladkin
lad...@kestrel.arpa

Gilbert Cockton

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Oct 21, 1986, 9:29:09 AM10/21/86
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In article <19...@well.UUCP> jja...@well.UUCP (Jeffrey Jacobs) writes:
>
>Most so-called "understanding" is the result of training and
>education. We are taught "procedures" to follow to
>arrive at a desired result/conclusion. Education is primarily a
>matter of teaching "procedures", whether it be mathematics, chemistry
>or creative writing. The *better* understood the field, the more "formal"
>the procedures. Mathematics is very well understood, and
>consists almost entirely of "formal procedures".

This is contentious and smacks of modelling all learning procedures
in terms of a single subject, i.e. mathematics. I can't think of a
more horrible subject to model human understanding on, given the
inhumanity of most mathematics!

Someone with as little as a week of curriculum studies could flatten
this assertion instantly. NO respectable curriculum theory holds that
there is a single form of knowledge to which all bodies of human
experience conform with decreasing measures of formal success. In the
UK, it is official curriculum policy to initiate children into
several `forms' of knowledge (mathematics, physical science,
technology, humanities, aesthetics, religion and the other one).
The degree to which "understanding" is accepted as procedural rote
learning varies from discipline to discipline. Your unsupported
equivalence between understanding and formality ("The *better* understood the
field, the more "formal" the procedures") would not last long in the
hands of social and religious studies, history, literature, craft/design
and technology or art teachers. Despite advances in LISP and
connection machines, no-one has yet formally modelled any of these areas to
the satisfaction of their skilled practitioners. I find it strange
that AI workers who would struggle to write a history/literature/design
essay to the satisfaction of a recognised authority are naive enough to believe
that they could program a machine to write one.

Many educational psychologists and experienced teachers would completely
reject your assertions on the ground that unpersonalised cookbook-style
passively-internalised formalisms, far from being a sign of understanding,
actually constitute the exact opposite of understanding. For me, the term
`understanding' cannot be applied to anything that someone has learnt until
they can act on this knowledge within the REAL world (no text book
problems or ineffective design rituals), justify their action in terms of this
knowledge and finally demonstrate integration of the new knowledge with their
existing views of the world (put it in their own words).

Finally, your passive view of understanding cannot explain creative
thought. Granted, you say `Most so-called "understanding"', but I
would challenge any view that creative thought is exceptional -
the mark of great and noble scientists who cannot yet be modelled by
LISP programs. On the contrary, much of our daily lives has to be
highly creative because our poor understanding of the world forces us to
creatively fill in the gaps left by our inadequate formal education.
Show me one engineer who has ever designed something from start to
finish 100% according to the book. Even where design codes exist, as
in bridge-building, much is left to the imagination. No formal prescription
of behaviour will ever fully constrain the way a human will act.
In situations where it is meant to, such as the military, folk spend a
lot of time pretending either to have done exactly what they were told
or to have said exactly what they wanted to be done. Nearer to home, find me
one computer programmer who's understanding is based 100% on formal procedures.
Even the most formal programmers will be lucky to be in program-proving mode
more than 60% of the time. So I take it that they don't `understand' what
they're doing the other 40% of the time? Maybe, but if this is the case, then
all we've revealed are differences in our dictionaries. Who gave you the formal procedure for ascribing meaning to the word "understanding"?

>This leads to the obvious conclusion that humans do not
>*understand* natural language very well.

>The lack of understanding of natural languages is also empirically
>demonstrable. Confusion about the meaning
>of a person's words, intentions etc can be seen in every interaction

... over the net!

Words MEAN something, and what they do mean is relative to the speakers and
the situation. The lack of formal procedures has NOTHING to do with
breakdowns in inter-subjective understanding. It is wholly due to
inabilities to view and describe the world in terms other than one's own.
--
Gilbert Cockton, Scottish HCI Centre, Ben Line Building, Edinburgh, EH1 1TN
JANET: gil...@uk.ac.hw.aimmi ARPA: gilbert%aimmi.h...@cs.ucl.ac.uk
UUCP: ..!{backbone}!aimmi.hw.ac.uk!gilbert

Gilbert Cockton

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Oct 28, 1986, 7:16:26 AM10/28/86
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In article <19...@well.UUCP>, jja...@well.UUCP (Jeffrey Jacobs) writes:
> (or to describe the transformations, etc). It is much more rigorous
> and well defined (aka understood) than other realms of human
> endeavor (such as psychology, or even physics).

`well-defined' and `understood' are not synonyms where I come from.
As an Englishman, and thus an ancestor of the folk who invented the
language, can I ask you transatlantic chappies to stop messing around with it.
English was very nice until you got your hands on it!

Seriously, science tends to generate very well-defined theories, which,
more often than not, turn out to be wrong. Under your silly synonymy,
this means that falsehood and understanding are equivalent. There is a
school of philosophy (and thus unread by the philistine (amateur?) element in
AI), which holds that `verstehen' or understanding, is wholly subjective,
a personal experience with no linguistic form. Any attempt to define
it must therefore fail. Outside of AI with its dated (Platonic?) epistemologies
and theories of mind, the logocentrism of tight definitions is
becoming something of a joke, although an unpleasant one for anyone
who has suffered at the hands of someone else's small print definitions.

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