General Processes of Scientific Discovery
The process of scientific discovery depends on the detection of patterns in data and the summary representation of these patterns in theoretical terms. BACON.3 uses general heuristics and production system methodology to accomplish pattern detection and the discovery of scientific laws. Among the classical laws rediscovered by BACON.3 is Kepler's third law of planetary motion. It must be emphasized that BACON.3's discoveries of scientific laws do not entail an explanation of the data; the laws only provide a summary of the data in the form of equations. In this section, BACON.3, developed by Langley ( 1981), is described with respect to its major characteristics, a summary and analysis of BACON.3's discoveries are presented, and a commentary on BACON.3's strengths and limitations is offered.
In order to discover scientific laws, BACON.3 relies on a set of general heuristics that recast data and theoretical terms at increasingly abstract levels of description. The first set of these heuristics operates at the level of data collection.