The Knowledge Sharing Effort

by Robert Neches

The Knowledge Sharing Effort is a consortium to develop conventions facilitating sharing and reuse of knowledge bases and knowledge based systems. The goal of the effort is to define, develop, and test infrastructure and supporting technology to enable participants to build much bigger and more broadly functional systems than could be achieved working alone. The output of the effort consists of (1) public-domain specifications and implementations of supporting technology; (2) reports, papers, and technical articles; (3) a reusable public library of proof-of-concept demonstrations.

Building new knowledge-based systems today usually entails constructing new knowledge bases from scratch. It could instead be done by assembling together reusable components. System developers would then only need to worry about creating the specialized knowledge and reasoners new to the specific task of their system. Their new system would inter-operate with existing systems, using them to perform some of its reasoning. In this way, declarative knowledge, problem solving techniques and reasoning services could all be shared among systems. This would facilitate building bigger and better systems cheaply. The infrastructure to support such sharing and reuse would lead to greater ubiquity of these systems, potentially transforming the knowledge industry. Definition of conventions enabling sharing among collaborators is the essential first step toward these goals.

Technical analyses of knowledge representation technology indicated four complementary areas in which development of common, agreed-upon conventions would enhance leverage between individual research efforts. (These analyses were initiated in a three-day workshop involving over 40 top AI and database researchers from ARPA, NSF, and industry communities.) The Knowledge Sharing Effort is organized around working groups addressing each of these four areas. Each working group maintains an electronic mailing list for discussions. The groups are:

concerned with translation between different representation languages, with sub-interests in translation at design time and at run-time. Working Group Co-Chairs: Richard Fikes and Mike Genesereth. Mailing-list:
KRSS (Knowledge Representation System Specification):
concerned with defining common constructs within families of representation languages. Working Group Co-Chairs: Bill Swartout and Peter Patel-Schneider. Mailing-list: To join, send an e-mail request to
External Interfaces:
concerned with run-time interactions between knowledge based systems and other modules in a run-time environment, with sub-interests in communication protocols for KB-to-KB and for KB-to-DB. Working Group Co-Chairs: Tim Finin, Jay Weber. Mailing-list:
Shared, Reusable Knowledge Bases:
concerned with facilitating consensus on contents of sharable knowledge bases, with sub-interests in shared knowledge for particular topic areas and in topic-independent development tools/methodologies. Working Group Co-Chairs: Tom Gruber and Marty Tenenbaum. Mailing-list:

The Knowledge Sharing Effort currently involves participants from over a dozen different research centers around the United States, as well as a small number of centers abroad. A representative list of participating research centers includes AT&T, Carnegie-Mellon University, EITech, Hewlett-Packard Research Center, Lockheed, Northwestern University, University of Saarbrucken, USC / Information Sciences Institute, Stanford Research Institute, Stanford University, Paramax, University of Maryland, University of Texas, and Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.

The ARPA sponsors of the Knowledge Sharing Effort are

Robert Neches <>
Dave Gunning <>

For further information, contact:

Ramish Patil
USC / Information Sciences Institute
4676 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

In addition to the /pub/knowledge-sharing directory at, the following publications are available as hardcopies from ISI by e-mail request to

Neches, R. Knowledge Sharing in Integrated User Support Environments: Applications, Frameworks, and Infrastructure. In K. Fuchi and T. Yokoi (Eds.), Proceedings of the 1993 International Conference on Building and Sharing of Very Large-Scale Knowledge Bases. Tokyo, Japan: Japan Information Processing Development Center (JIPDEC), December 1-4, 1993.

Swartout, W.R., Neches, R., Patil, R. Knowledge Sharing: Prospects and Challenges. In K. Fuchi and T. Yokoi (Eds.), Proceedings of the 1993 International Conference on Building and Sharing of Very Large-Scale Knowledge Bases, Tokyo, Japan, December 1-4, 1993.

Finin, T., Fritzson, R., and McKay, D. KQML: An Information and Knowledge Exchange Protocol (extended abstract). In K. Fuchi and T. Yokoi (Eds.), Proceedings of the 1993 International Conference on Building and Sharing of Very Large-Scale Knowledge Bases, Tokyo, Japan, December 1-4, 1993.

Neches, R. Review of D.B. Lenat & R. Guha, Building Large Knowledge-Based Systems. Journal of Artificial Intelligence, 61, 1993, pp. 65-79.

Neches, R. Foley, J.D., Szekely, P., Sukaviriya, P., Luo, P., Kovacevic, S., Hudson, S. Knowledgeable Development Environments Using Shared Design Models. In Proceedings of the ACM/AAAI International Workshop on Intelligent User Interfaces, Orlando, FL, January, 1993.

Neches, R., & Arango, G. Design Capture. To appear in G. Zack & J. Hopcroft (Eds.), Information Technology Issues in Concurrent Design and Engineering, Academic Press, 1993.

Patil, R.S., Fikes, R.E., Patel-Schneider, P.F., McKay, D., Finin, T., Gruber, T., & Neches, R. The DARPA Knowledge Sharing Effort: Progress Report. In Proceedings of KR'92, The Annual International Conference on Knowledge Acquisition, Cambridge, MA, October, 1992.

Neches, R. Cognitive Issues in the Shelter Knowledge Base Development Environment. In Proceedings of the AAAI Spring Symposium on Cognitive Issues in Knowledge Acquisition, Stanford, CA, March, 1992.

Neches, R. Acquisition of Knowledge for Sharing and Reuse. In B.R. Gaines (Ed.), Proceedings of the Annual Workshop on Knowledge Acquisition, Banff, Canada, October 6-11, 1991.

Neches, R., Fikes, R., Finin, T., Gruber, T., Patil, R., Senator, T., & Swartout, W.R. Enabling Technology for Knowledge Sharing. AI Magazine, 12(3), 1991, 36-56.

Additional information may be obtained from individual working group chairs by email to:

Remember, the best source of information on the Knowledge Sharing Effort is the

Knowledge Sharing Library on the World Wide Web
which is available at

edited by Gruber on July 26, 1994.