Structured development of problem solving methods

Fensel, D. and Motta, E. (2001). Structured development of problem solving methods. IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, 13(6) pp. 913–932.



Problem solving methods (PSMs) describe the reasoning components of knowledge-based systems as patterns of behavior that can be reused across applications. While the availability of extensive problem solving method libraries and the emerging consensus on problem solving method specification languages indicate the maturity of the field, a number of important research issues are still open. In particular, very little progress has been achieved on foundational and methodological issues. Hence, despite the number of libraries which have been developed, it is still not clear what organization principles should be adopted to construct truly comprehensive libraries, covering large numbers of applications and encompassing both task-specific and task-independent problem solving methods. In this paper, we address these "fundamental" issues and present a comprehensive and detailed framework for characterizing problem solving methods and their development process. In particular, we suggest that PSM development consists of introducing assumptions and commitments along a three-dimensional space defined in terms of problem-solving strategy, task commitments, and domain (knowledge) assumptions. Individual moves through this space can be formally described by means of adapters. In the paper, we illustrate our approach and argue that our architecture provides answers to three fundamental problems related to research in problem solving methods: 1) what is the epistemological structure and what are the modeling primitives of PSMs? 2) how can we model the PSM development process? and 3) how can we develop and organize truly comprehensive and manageable libraries of problem solving methods?

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