Reusable components for knowledge modelling

Motta, Enrico (1998). Reusable components for knowledge modelling. PhD thesis The Open University.



In this work I illustrate an approach to the development of a library of problem solving components for knowledge modelling. This approach is based on an epistemological modelling framework, the Task/Method/Domain/Application (TMDA) model, and on a principled methodology, which provide an integrated view of both library construction and application development by reuse.

The starting point of the proposed approach is given by a task ontology. This formalizes a conceptual viewpoint over a class of problems, thus providing a task-specific framework, which can be used to drive the construction of a task model through a process of model-based knowledge acquisition. The definitions in the task ontology provide the initial elements of a task-specific library of problem solving components.

In order to move from problem specification to problem solving, a generic, i.e. taskindependent, model of problem solving as search is introduced, and instantiated in terms of the concepts in the relevant task ontology, say T. The result is a task-specific, but method-independent, problem solving model. This generic problem solving model provides the foundation from which alternative problem solving methods for a class of tasks can be defined. Specifically, the generic problem solving model provides i) a highly generic method ontology, say M; ii) a set of generic building blocks (generic tasks), which can be used to construct task-specific problem solving methods; and iii) an initial problem solving method, which can be characterized as the most generic problem solving method, which subscribes to M and is applicable to T. More specific problem solving methods can then be (re-)constructed from the generic problem solving model through a process of method/ontology specialization and method-to-task application.

The resulting library of reusable components enjoys a clear theoretical basis and provides robust support for reuse. In the thesis I illustrate the approach in the area of parametric design.

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