PI in a Box: The Design of an "Expert" Protocol Manager

Reference: Haymann-Haber, G. PI in a Box: The Design of an "Expert" Protocol Manager. KSL, July, 1989.

Abstract: Astronaut time during manned space-flight is a scarce resource. To maximize the effectiveness of the crew, and to make use of their abilities to work as scientist collaborators as well as equipment operators, normally requires more training in a wide variety of disciplines than is practical. A prototype computer system has been designed in order to study the possibility of assisting astronauts in planning and performing experiments through the use of an on- board computer. The system provides advice on the management of the protocol of an experiment by responding to various external signals as well as inputs from the astronauts. This report covers the Protocol Manager module of the system. The Protocol Manager receives experiment data that has been summarized and categorized by the other modules. It acts on the data in real-time by employing expert system techniques. Its recommendations are based on heuristics provided by the Principal Investigator in charge of the experiment. This prototype has been developed on an Apple Macintosh II, by employing CLIPS, a forward-chaining rule-based system, and HyperCard as an object-oriented user interface builder. Several issues related to the design of expert systems are discussed as well.

Full paper available as hqx.

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