Magazine article AI Magazine

Worldwide Perspectives and Trends in Expert Systems: An Analysis Based on the Three World Congresses on Expert Systems

Magazine article AI Magazine

Worldwide Perspectives and Trends in Expert Systems: An Analysis Based on the Three World Congresses on Expert Systems

Article excerpt

An Analysis Based on the Three World Congresses on Expert Systems

Some people believe that the expert system field is dead, yet others believe it is alive and well. To gain a better insight into these possible views, the first three world congresses on expert systems (which typically attract representatives from some 45-SO countries) are used to determine the health of the global expert system field in terms of applied technologies, applications, and management. This article highlights some of these findings.

Over the past six years, there have been some interesting trends in expert system activity worldwide (Lee, Liebowitz, and Chae 1996; Liebowitz 1996, 1994a, 1994b, 1991; Liebowitz et al. 1996; CantuOrtiz 1991; Lee et al. 1991; Suen 1991; Zarri 1991). An excellent way to gain a global perspective on expert system technology, applications, and management is to examine the world congresses on expert systems (sponsored by the International Society for Intelligent Systems in Rockville, Maryland).

The World Congress on Expert Systems was established to bridge the gap between the academician and the practitioner and concentrate on expert system work being performed throughout the world. It provides an international representation of both scholarly and practical issues on expert system technologies and applications. The congress tries to connect expert system theory and practice and promote the sharing of worldwide ideas in the expert system field that would lead to the standardization of expert system methodologies, techniques, and tools. Also, an important part of the world congress is the awarding of the Feigenbaum Medal to an individual who has contributed worldwide to expert system research and technology transfer. The recipients have been Professor Edward Feigenbaum (who also serves as the congress's honorary chair), Peter Friedland (formerly with NASA Ames in charge of Al research and applications for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), and Donald Michie of the University of Edinburgh and the Turing Institute.

The congress typically has three major components: (1) expert system technology, (2) expert system applications, and (3) management of expert system programs and projects. The congress attracts representatives from some 45 countries; about 60 percent of the attendees are from universities, 30 percent from industry, and 10 percent from government. The World Congress on Expert Systems is held every two years; the first congress was held in Orlando, Florida, in 1991; the second in Lisbon in 1994; and the third in Seoul in 1996. The Fourth World Congress on Expert Systems will be held in Mexico City on 16-20 March 1998 (Francisco Cantu-Ortiz, ITESM, conference chair). The past three congresses have included close to 800 papers from about SO countries.

To gain an appreciation for worldwide expert system activities over the past six years, the World Congress on Expert Systems serves as an excellent sampling of applied (mostly) papers in expert system technology and applications. This article highlights some of the major global expert system trends and activities based on an analysis of the first three world congresses on expert systems.

Worldwide Expert System Applications

The First World Congress on Expert Systems showcased some of the leading expert system work being used worldwide. The quality of the operational expert systems was outstanding. Applications ranged from blast-furnace control at Fukuyama Works in Japan to elevator design at Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corporation to strategic management support in Germany. The variety of expert system work being conducted was evident at the congress. Applications ranged from the scheduling of crews in Portuguese railways to sheep-reproduction management in Australia to hurricane damage assessment in the Caribbean to the modeling of a black teenager on subjects of teenage pregnancy, drug, and alcohol abuse. …

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