Catalogue of Artificial Intelligence Techniques


Preface (from the 4th edition)

The purpose of ``Artificial Intelligence Techniques: A Catalogue'' is to promote interaction between members of the AI community. It does this by announcing the existence of AI techniques, and acting as a pointer into the literature. Thus the AI community has access to a common, extensional definition of the field, which promotes a common terminology, discourages the reinvention of wheels, and acts as a clearing house for ideas and algorithms. I am grateful to the impressive group of AI experts who have contributed the many descriptions of AI techniques which go to make up this Catalogue. They have managed to distil a very wide knowledge of AI into a very compact form.

The Catalogue is a reference work providing a quick guide to the AI techniques available for different tasks. Intentionally, it only provides a brief description of each technique, with no extended discussion of its historical origin or how it has been used in particular AI programs.

The original version of the Catalogue was hastily built in 1983 as part of the UK SERC-DoI, IKBS Architecture Study. It was adopted by the UK Alvey Programme and, during the life of the programme, was both circulated to Alvey grant holders in hard copy form and maintained as an on-line document. A version designed for the international community was published as a paperback by Springer-Verlag. All these versions have undergone constant revision and refinement. Springer-Verlag has agreed to reprint the Catalogue at frequent intervals in order to keep it up to date. This is the fourth version of the Catalogue. Many experts in AI have collaborated to bring it up to date by adding many new entries and checking and revising all the old ones.

By `AI techniques' we mean algorithms, data (knowledge) formalisms, architectures, and methodological techniques, which can be described in a precise, clean way. The Catalogue entries are intended to be non-technical and brief, but with a literature reference. The reference might not be the `classic' one. It will often be to a textbook or survey article. The border between AI and non-AI techniques is fuzzy. Since the Catalogue is to promote interaction, some techniques are included because they are vital parts of many AI programs, even though they did not originate in AI.

We have not included in the Catalogue separate entries for each slight variation of a technique, nor have we included descriptions of AI programs tied to a particular application, nor of descriptions of work in progress. The Catalogue is not intended to be a dictionary of AI terminology, nor to include definitions of AI problems, nor to include descriptions of paradigm examples.

Entries are short (abstract length) descriptions of a technique. They include a title, list of aliases, contributor's name, paragraph of description, and references. The contributor's name is that of the original author of the entry. Only occasionally is the contributor of the entry also the inventor of the technique. The reference is a better guide to the identity of the inventor. Some entries have been subsequently modified by the referees and/or editorial team, and these modifications have not always been checked with the original contributor, so (s)he should not always be held morally responsible, and should never be held legally responsible.

The original version of the Catalogue was called ``The Catalogue of Artificial Intelligence Tools'' and also contained descriptions of portable software, e.g., expert system shells and knowledge representation systems. Unfortunately, we found it impossible to maintain a comprehensive coverage of either all or only the best such software. New systems were being introduced too frequently and it required a major editorial job to discover all of them, to evaluate them and to decide what to include. It would also have required a much more frequent reprinting of the Catalogue than either the publishers, editors or readers could afford. Also expert system shells threatened to swamp the other entries. We have, therefore, decided to omit software entries from future editions and rename the Catalogue to reflect this. The only exception to this is programming languages, for which we will provide generic entries.

Alan Bundy (August 1995)