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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Zoning in Vancouver : an expert system to assess development proposals Atkins, Julian Francis


A sample of Vancouver's zoning has been expressed as an expert system, microcomputer program, - Euclid - in order to demonstrate the feasibility of applying this tool in municipal planning, and to explore the desirability of such computer applications. Review of the literature on Expert Systems from a planning practice perspective showed that this is considered one of the more exciting and potentially useful developments emerging from Computer Science. Expert Systems are thought to be applicable to some planning tasks which are difficult to handle using the computer tools currently available yet suited to automation, however, there is in the literature very little empirical work on developing systems and testing the potential utility of expert systems in land use planning. Euclid is programmed in Turbo Prolog 2.0, a language accessible without extensive or specialized computer training. The first conclusions of the thesis are that simple but useful expert systems can be built rather quickly by planners, and that development control is a good application domain. The thesis also uncovered several weaknesses and inconsistencies which appear related to the way Zoning By-laws have been written, and suggests that the discipline of programming in logic may avoid or resolve such problems. Finally the process of developing a system is shown to be just important as the system itself: Expert systems are a way of thinking about a problem just as they are a way of solving it.

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