Expert Systems: AI is Back
In the late 80s, the buzz phrase "artificial intelligence" went out of vogue after initial returns on early applications did not rise to the hype. Expert systems, a species of AI that emulates human reasoning in a specific domain, are no longer ahead of their time due to exponential advances in computing power and application possibilities. Rule-based expert systems, which reason about problem facts using IF...THEN type rules, are the most mature of these technologies. Such systems unobtrusively power many current high-tech applications such as Web agents, financial calculators, and mechatronic controls. Java technology is a key enabler in this reemerging field.
With the popularity of Java for distributed computing across the enterprise and the explosion of business complexity, more Java developers are reexamining the feasibility of including AI components in their applications. Until recently, few tools were available for integrating such business rules into Java applications. Jess is a robust, versatile Java API for creating a wide variety of commercial-strength, rule-based expert systems.
Dr. Ernest J. Friedman-Hill is a principal investigator in the Distributed Systems Research department at Sandia National Labs. His current work includes the development of software for mechanical design and analysis. .