JESS is a new computer package for modelling chemical systems in solution and performing numerical analyses on associated experimental data. It was developed to solve problems requiring specialist knowledge of chemical speciation. It currently comprises over 150 programs, 1200 subroutines and 120,000 lines of Fortran code. The main reasons for the development of JESS, and the principles which underpin it, are described. Subsequent papers detail the major facilities which JESS now provides
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