Report Number: CS-TR-70-176
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Computer Science
Title: On generality and problem solving: a case study using the DENDRAL program
Author: Feigenbaum, Edward A.
Author: Buchanan, Bruce G.
Author: Lederberg, Joshua
Date: August 1970
Abstract: Heuristic DENDRAL is a computer program written to solve problems of inductive inference in organic chemistry. This paper will use the design of Heuristic DENDRAL and its performance on different problems for a discussion of the following topics: 1. the design for generality; 2. the performance problems attendant upon too much generality; 3. the coupling of expertise to the general problem solving processes; 4. the symbiotic relationship between generality and expertness, and the implications of this symbiosis for the study and design of problem solving systems. We conclude the paper with a view of the design for a general problem solver that is a variant of the "big switch" theory of generality.