Either artificial intelligence software development has lagged so far behind hardware advances that there is nothing yet capable of taking anything like full advantage of the specialised workstations of the kind built by Symbolics Inc and Lisp Machine – or specialised workstations were never really needed anyway. At all events, Gold Hill Computers Inc, Long Beach, California reckons that its new GoldWorks program gives expert system developers and users pretty much all they need on an 80286- or 80386-based MS-DOS machine without the need to resort to anything in the way of exotic hardware. The firm describes GoldWorks as a new expert system building tool for developing and delivering knowledge-based expert systems on personal computers using the more advanced Intel chips, and claims it to be the first MS-DOS tool to offer the power and functionality of the systems written for specialised artificial intelligence workstations.
Positioned to compete with high-end development tools, GoldWorks is aimed at professional software developers responsible for bringing artificial intelligence technology into their companies. As a delivery tool, Gold Hill reckons that GoldWorks will be immediately appealing to developers who have already built expert systems on specialised workstations and need to distribute them to a large base of end-users. Commercial hardware has caught up to specialised AI workstations and GoldWorks is capitalising on this development, declares Gold Hill president Carl Wolf. Today, developers who previously had to work with high-end tools on specialised hardware, can develop sophisticated systems on the machines sitting on their desks and deliver these systems to thousands of end-users. GoldWorks is described as a hybrid tool, combining a knowledge base; an inference engine that can reach conclusions using forward, backward and goal-directed forward chaining; a multi-level, open architecture that provides developers with two programming and debugging environments based on their level of experience; external interfaces to Lotus 1-2-3, dBase and C; a screen toolkit for the quick design of end- user application screens; and two on-line tutorials and on-line help system. Corporations need to develop expert systems that they can deliver to large numbers of users; with GoldWorks they can bring applications to more people than ever before possible, claims Jerry Barber, founder and vice president of research and development for Gold Hill. Until now they could either build a serious expert system which would run on specialised workstations or build something less effective that they could deliver on a PC. GoldWorks changes all of that. It allows you to build serious expert systems on PCs. In fact, it changes the economics of expert system development and delivery.
HummingBoard In addition, developers have previously been restricted in their development efforts by the memory addressability limitation imposed by MS-DOS. GoldWorks breaks the 640Kb barrier and can address up to 15Mb on the IBM AT, 14Mb on the Compaq DeskPro 386, and up to 24Mb on Gold Hill’s own 386 HummingBoard. This is an 80386-based based plug-in board with memory compatible with XTs and ATs, and contains extra memory and specialised hardware features, and is claimed to be up to five times faster than an AT, to give comparable performance to dedicated Lisp machines. GoldWorks will also run on the new IBM Personal System/2. According to Gold Hill, GoldWorks combines a frame-based knowledge representation system that includes frames, rules, assertions, and object programming with an inference engine; menu and developer interfaces; on-line help; external interface modules; a complete Lisp environment with an interpreter, compiler and GMACS editor; example applications with source code; complete system documentation and reference manuals; the Common Lisp Reference Manual by Guy Steele, and Lisp by Winston and Horn. Important technical features include integrated forward and backward chaining, screen tool kit, browser, inspector, and c
ontrol mechanisms including rule priorities, agendas, certainty factors, daemons, dependency, retraction, explanation facilities and sponsors. At the outermost level of the system is a high-level menu interface designed to offer an easy-to-use menu and window-oriented expert system shell that permits the developer to build applications rapidly without knowing the underlying programming environment. The next level is the developer’s interface, which functions as a toolkit, allowing developers to access the underlying programming environment and tools to extend and customise the system for specific applications. The lowest level, Golden Common Lisp, is for artificial intelligence programmers who want to use the full power and flexiblity of the language. GoldWorks also provides two tutorials.
The on-line expert system tutorial, available in the menu level interface, provides a step-by-step introduction to expert system development. It covers basic knowledge representation, inferencing strategies, and knowledge engineering approaches, and also includes example applications on how to design and build expert systems using the product. GoldWorks also includes the San Marco Lisp Explorer, an interactive tutorial that teaches and demonstrates Lisp concepts and artificial intelligence programming strategies. GoldWorks minimum system requirements are an IBM AT or 100%-compatible, a Compaq DeskPro 386, or a Gold Hill 386 HummingBoard running with an XT or AT. It needs at least 512Kb memory, 10Mb hard disk, at least 5Mb of extended memory, and a CGA display adaptor and monitor. Recommended system enhancements are a MicroSoft or Mouse Systems mouse, 10Mb of extended memory, and an EGA display. The standard price is $7,500, but Gold Hill is offering it for the IBM AT and Compaq DeskPro 386 at an introductory price of $5,000 unit July 31. Bundled with the 386 HummingBoard, it will be $13,300, but is available for $10,800 until July 1. Also on offer for beginners are the GoldWorks Builder’s PAK at $7,000, which includes one-day intensive training for up to two people and one day of follow-up consulting; and the GoldWorks Standard PAK at $10,000, including a five-day training course for up to two people, with one day of follow-up consulting; these prices are also part of the introductory offer.