Building Knowledge Based Systems for Maintainability
For the practical use of KBSs to become widespread in the 1990s sound software engineering principles need to be followed. One important aspect of this is maintainability. In this paper some of the results of the Maintenance Assistance for Knowledge Engineers (MAKE) project are described. The aim of the project is to address the important role of maintenance in KBSs and in particular KBSs based on written sources of which legal and quasi legal systems provide the prime example. These systems can be viewed at several different levels, the source level, the knowledge representation level and the target executable representation level. It is suggested that the key to the maintenance of such systems is to maintain the intermediate knowledge representation rather than patching the code used in the target executable representation. Maintenance is thus a matter of knowledge representation rather than programming. Further, maintenance can be greatly enhanced by using a suitable development environment and methodology supported by a set of maintenance tools that focuses on this intermediate representation and its relation to the sources to increase understandability and hence adaptability.
One such environment, the Make Authoring and Development Environment (MAUDE), is described in this paper. This has been developed as part of the MAKE project and is designed to encourage the production of systems which can be maintained through an intermediate representation. MAUDE is supported by a suite of maintenance tools aimed at increasing understandability of the intermediate representation and to carry out various validation, verification and house keeping tasks to enhance maintainability. The MAKE suite of maintenance tools are also described. Both the MAUDE environment and methodology and tools have been used to produce a pilot KBS for British Coal’s Insurance and Pensions Division. The system is currently under going trials but some encouraging results have been received indicating that a sound footing has been established for further work.
KeywordsKnowledge Representation Intermediate Representation Knowledge Base System Maintenance Engineer Redundant Rule
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