Heuretics: Theoretical and Experimental Study of Heuristic Rules

Douglas B. Lenat

Builders of expert rule-based systems [Barr 81] [Feigenbaum 77] [Hayes-Roth et al. 82] attribute the impressive performance of their programs to the corpus of knowledge they embody: a large network of facts to provide breadth of scope, and a large array of informal judgmental rules (heuristics) which guide the system toward plausible paths to follow and away from implausible ones. Yet what is the nature of heuristics? What is the source of their power? How do thev interreIate; i.e., how can/should a large corpus of heuristic rules be organized? How do heuristics originate and evolve? "Heuretics" is the study of heuristics, with an eye toward answering questions such as those. Two case studies, the AM and EURISKO programs, have led to some tentative Heuretics hypotheses, a dozen of which are presented in this paper. Our aim is to stimulate future research in this field.


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