Report Number: CS-TR-85-1066
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Computer Science
Title: Heuristic classification
Author: Clancey, William J.
Date: June 1985
Abstract: A broad range of well-structured problems--embracing forms of diagnosis, catalog selection, and skeletal planning--are solved in "expert systems" by the method of heuristic classification. These programs have a characteristic inference structure that systematically relates data to a pre-enumerated set of solutions by abstraction, heuristic association, and refinement. In contrast with previous descriptions of classification reasoning, particularly in psychology, this analysis emphasizes the role of a heuristic in routine problem solving as a non-hierarchical, direct association between concepts. In contrast with other descriptions of expert systems, this analysis specifies the knowledge needed to solve a problem, independent of its representation in a particular computer language. The heuristic classification problem-solving model provides a useful framework for characterizing kinds of problems, for designing representation tools, and for understanding non-classification (constructive) problem-solving methods.