Software package Simple Expert Systems

These programs were made with an expert system shell we developed specially for teaching undergraduates, postgraduates and short course participants. The shell not only features all the necessary procedures and logic but it also shows how the selection is actually done. There are three systems available from us:

  1. Equipment selection in solid-liquid separation
  2. Selection of the test method in bulk powder testing
  3. Selection of the method for particle size measurement

SES flow chart

The above-mentioned shell has been loaded with questions, which have to be answered in making preliminary selection, and with a two-page list of test methods/ equipment. The user is then led through the questions, answering one or more of the options offered on screen (or passing the question by, by choosing the option DO NOT KNOW/NOT IMPORTANT). The program then eliminates, on the basis of the user's answers, any tests / equipment not suitable. Before striking any tests / equipment off the list, however, the user is shown the current list of tests / equipment with the items to be struck-off in inverse so that he / she may consider the reasons why it might be so.On a subsequent space bar pressing, the titles in inverse disappear and only the tests / equipment considered suitable for the task remain on the screen.

Sample questionThere are two types of questions in the program and they may be identified by the heading. Selected options to be satisfied: ALL or ANY. This concerns the logic adopted in case more than one answer is selected by the user. If it says ALL, all chosen options have to be met by the tests/equipment to stay on the list and be short-listed. If it says ANY, the test/equipment will stay on the list if it meets any one of the options selected by the user.

There is a whole host of optional pages and commands available during the execution of the program. Before answering any of the questions, the user can access a Help Page which explains the question and the option answers and gives some guidance as to how to select a suitable answer.

The appropriate option is selected by pressing the number: the number of the option will then display in inverse and repeated pressing of that number will toggle between the inverse and normal to indicate when the choice is on and when it is off.

Explanation of reasoningThe other options (available when the command rows at the bottom of the screen so indicate) include going back to the question (when the user changes his/her mind with respect to answers to a particular question), printing the shortlist, displaying the list of questions and answers given so far (i.e.the reason why the current tests/equipment are still on the shortlist) and accessing a page in a database (starting at top of the current shortlist) giving some data for and description of a particular test method/piece of equipment.

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