What is a knowledge-based system?

by Stephen M. Walker II, Co-Founder / CEO

What is a knowledge-based system?

A knowledge-based system (KBS) is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) that uses a knowledge base to solve complex problems. It's designed to capture the knowledge of human experts to support decision-making. The system is composed of two main components: a knowledge base and an inference engine.

The knowledge base is a repository of data that represents facts about the world. It contains a collection of information in a given field, serving as the system's intellectual treasury. The inference engine, on the other hand, is the system's analytical brain. It processes and locates data based on requests, similar to a search engine. It applies logical reasoning to the knowledge in the base to infer new insights, solving problems with a level of sophistication akin to human intellect.

Users interact with the system through a user interface, which forms a communicative bridge between the system and users, allowing queries to be input and answers to be received.

Knowledge-based systems are used in a variety of applications. For instance, in the medical field, a KBS can help doctors more accurately diagnose diseases. These systems are called clinical decision-support systems in the health industry. They can also be used in areas as diverse as industrial equipment fault diagnosis, learning simulation, and creating a company-wide knowledge-sharing platform.

It's important to note that while all expert systems are knowledge-based systems, not all knowledge-based systems are expert systems. The term "expert system" refers to the type of task the system is trying to assist with - to replace or aid a human expert, while "knowledge-based system" refers to the architecture of the system - that it represents knowledge rather than as procedural code.

Generative AI models, like ChatGPT and Bard, are prime examples of knowledge-based systems. These systems are reshaping our information landscape, altering the way we process data, and revolutionizing decision-making.

What are the components of a knowledge-based system?

A knowledge-based system typically consists of three main components:

  1. Knowledge Base — This is the actual knowledge stored in the system. It is a repository of data that contains a collection of information in a given field, such as medical data or hardware specifications. The knowledge base works in tandem with the inference engine.

  2. Inference Engine — This is the backend component of a KBS that applies logic rules (as assertions and conditions) to the knowledge base to derive answers from it. The inference engine processes and locates data based on requests, similar to a search engine.

  3. User Interface — This is where the user formulates queries, which the knowledge-based system uses to solicit further information from the user and explain its conclusions.

How does a knowledge-based system work?

A knowledge-based system works by using the knowledge base and the inference engine. The knowledge base is a repository of data that contains a collection of information in a given field. The inference engine processes and locates data based on requests, similar to a search engine. A reasoning system is used to draw conclusions from data provided and make decisions based on if-then logic programming or constraint handling rules.

What are the benefits of using a knowledge-based system?

Knowledge-based systems offer several benefits:

  1. Improved Productivity — When employees spend less time searching for knowledge and more time acting on it, they are more productive and contribute higher-quality work.

  2. Reduced Training Time — A well-structured knowledge base can significantly reduce the time required to train new employees.

  3. Increased Employee Engagement — Employees are more engaged when they can easily access and contribute to the company's knowledge base.

  4. Better Decision-Making — Readily available and relevant information helps teams make more informed decisions.

  5. Revenue Generation — A centralized source for knowledge sharing contributes to innovation, which can lead to revenue and company growth.

What are some of the challenges associated with knowledge-based systems?

Despite their benefits, knowledge-based systems also face several challenges:

  1. Knowledge Representation — It can be difficult to represent complex knowledge in a structured and understandable way. The choice of knowledge representation language can also pose a challenge.

  2. Data Quality — Starting with incomplete or inaccurate data can lead to incorrect conclusions.

  3. Sharing and Collaboration Culture — A lack of a culture that encourages sharing and collaboration can hinder the effectiveness of a knowledge-based system.

  4. Maintenance — Knowledge bases require ongoing maintenance and updates. As organizations make changes to their internal policies and product lines, content teams must update information in the knowledge base accordingly.

  5. Access and Search Functionality — If the knowledge base is not easily accessible or if the search functionality is not efficient, it can lead to frustration and reduced usage.

More terms

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