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Dorans, Hugh
Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
Classification of metamorphic rocks is normally carried out using a poorly defined, subjective classification scheme making this an area in which many undergraduate geologists experience difficulties. An expert system to assist in such classification is presented which is capable of classifying rocks and also giving further details about a particular rock type. A mixed knowledge representation is used with frame, semantic and production rule systems available. Classification in the domain requires that different facets of a rock be classified. To implement this, rocks are represented by 'context' frames with slots representing each facet. Slots are satisfied by calling a pre-defined ruleset to carry out the necessary inference. The inference is handled by an interpreter which uses a dependency graph representation for the propagation of evidence. Uncertainty is handled by the system using a combination of the MYCIN certainty factor system and the Dempster-Shafer range mechanism. This allows for positive and negative reasoning, with rules capable of representing necessity and sufficiency of evidence, whilst also allowing the implementation of an alpha-beta pruning algorithm to guide question selection during inference. The system also utilizes a semantic net type structure to allow the expert to encode simple relationships between terms enabling rules to be written with a sensible level of abstraction. Using frames to represent rock types where subclassification is possible allows the knowledge base to be built in a modular fashion with subclassification frames only defined once the higher level of classification is functioning. Rulesets can similarly be added in modular fashion with the individual rules being essentially declarative allowing for simple updating and maintenance. The knowledge base so far developed for metamorphic classification serves to demonstrate the performance of the interpreter design whilst also moving some way towards providing a useful assistant to the non-expert metamorphic petrologist. The system demonstrates the possibilities for a fully developed knowledge base to handle the classification of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. The current knowledge base and interpreter have been evaluated by potential users and experts. The results of the evaluation show that the system performs to an acceptable level and should be of use as a tool for both undergraduates and researchers from outside the metamorphic petrography field. .
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