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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Flood advisor : an expert system for flood estimation Fayegh, A. David


Expert computer programs have recently emerged from research on artificial intelligence as a practical problem-solving tool. An expert system is a knowledge-based program that imitates the problem-solving behaviour of a human expert to solve complex real-world problems. While conventional programs organize knowledge on two levels: data and program, most expert programs organize knowledge on three levels: data, knowledge base, and control. Thus, what distinguishes such a system from conventional programs is that in most expert systems the problem solving model is treated as a separate entity rather than appearing only implicitly as part of the coding of the program. The purpose of this thesis is twofold. First, it is intended to demonstrate how domain-specific problem-solving knowledge may be represented in computer memory by using the frame representation technique. Secondly, it is intended to simulate a typical flood estimation situation, from the point-of-view of an expert engineer. A frame network was developed to represent, in data structures, the declarative, procedural, and heuristic knowledge necessary for solving a typical flow estimation problem. The control strategy of this computer-based consultant (FLOOD ADVISOR) relies on the concept that reasoning is dominated by a recognition process which is used to compare new instances of a given phenomena to the stereotyped conceptual framework used in understanding that phenomena. The primary purpose of the FLOOD ADVISOR is to provide interactive advice about the flow estimation technique most suitable to one of five generalized real-world situations. These generalizations are based primarily on the type and quantity of the data and resources available to the engineer. They are used to demonstrate how problem solving knowledge may be used to interactively assist the engineer in making difficult decisions. The expertise represented in this prototype system is far from complete and the recommended solution procedures for each generalized case are in their infancy. However, modifications may be easily implemented as the domain-specific expert knowledge becomes available. It is concluded that over the long term, this type of approach for building problem-solving models of the real world are computationally cheaper and easier to develop and maintain than conventional computer programs.

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