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Friday, December 01, 2006

Expert Systems on Handheld Devices

More Expert Systems Migrate To Handheld Devices

Exsys ports its Corvid expert systems software to run on Hewlett-Packard's iPaq pocket PCs and 40 other handheld devices. Exsys was one of the expert systems companies we worked with in the 90s. The article uses the term 'inference engine' ... let me explain. Almost all computer code today, like that running the browser you are reading this on, is operating in a step by step order determined by the code itself. This process is fundamentally not much different from the coding that was done in the 50's.

If you use an inference engine, the program logically proceeds to a desired business conclusion we were attempting to resolve. This sounds more like the way our thought process works (if we really were that logical!) so its considered a part of artificial intelligence. Its also much easier to understand the code used, making maintenance easier. Back in the late 80s, we thought that by now all computer coding would be done with 'inference engines', but it turned out to be more difficult than we thought.

" ... You may soon be carrying expert systems in your pocket or briefcase. More companies are adapting their software to run on handheld devices that use inference engines rather than hard coding, and customers should have more choices in the coming months and years.

The latest evidence is from software vendor Exsys, which this month ported its Corvid expert systems software to run on Hewlett-Packard's iPaq pocket PCs. The software also can run on about 40 other handhelds that rely on the Document Type Definition subset of IBM WebSphere's Java Virtual Machine. The ability to arm knowledge workers with expert systems loaded onto handheld devices makes expert knowledge much more accessible. This could be especially useful to sales reps, technicians, or field repair workers.

The National Park Service is looking at using the handheld version of Corvid to evaluate areas that experienced environmental damage, Exsys CEO Dustin Huntington says. With the software, the Park Service could hire people with limited environmental background to go to a site and evaluate the situation as if they were environmental engineers conducting the survey. The expert system, in the form of a questionnaire, would guide the surveyors down the right path, prompting them to seek specific new information based on the response to the last question they entered. "By having that knowledge there," Huntington says, "they're able to put the logic of the decision maker out there in the field." ...

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