Conventional expert systems design places undue emphasis on obtaining the answer in a particular problem situation whereas in practice many problem owners are more concerned with the process by which this answer was arrived at. By concentrating on the process of solving a particular problem, it is possible to take into consideration situational factors that are not explicitly accounted for in the knowledge base or find alternatives when the system comes up with ‘undesirable’ answers. The expert system, therefore effectively becomes a tool for the problem owner to use rather than a machine which generates solutions. The paper describes this new conceptual approach to using expert systems to assist in the decision making process, showing why it is needed and how it differs from conventional expert systems design. It also describes an expert system development tool that has been created to support this process and briefly discusses a number of examples that have been developed within this framework
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