Towards the Principled Engineering of Knowledge

  • Mark Stefik
  • Lynn Conway


The acquisition of expert knowledge is fundamental to the certain of expert systems. The conventional approach to building expert systems assumes that the knowledge exists, and that it is feasible to find an expert who has the knowledge and can articulate it in collaboration with a knowledge engineer. This article considers the practice of knowledge engineering when these assumptions can not be strictly justified. It draws on our experiences in the design of VLSI design methods, and in the prototyping of an expert assistant for VLSI design. We suggest methods for expanding the practice of knowledge engineering when applied to fields that are fragmented and undergoing rapid evolution. We outline how the expanded practice can shape and accelerate the process of knowledge generation and refinement. Our examples also clarify some of the unarticulated present practice of knowledge engineering.