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Communications of the ACM

An expert system for a resource allocation problem


We describe an expert system for resource allocation in a particular military domain. The system incorporates variants of several important techniques of artificial intelligence and makes the first use of the Merit system for question selection. This technique enables the system to direct the acquisition of information by finding questions with a high ratio of probable importance to difficulty. In the current application, each resource is a military weapon, each task to which such a resource can be allocated is firing at a military target, and the objective function is the expected reduction in value of targets. The coefficients that relate a particular resource to a particular task are not provided explicitly. Instead, in the first phase of the allocation process, the system uses a computation network to determine the effectiveness of each individual weapon against each prospective target. The network, built by a domain expert in advance, allows reasoning with logical, Bayesian, and expert-defined operators. After the calculation of individual effectiveness values, portions of an allocation tree are constructed to determine good allocation plans for the set of weapons. The individual effectiveness values are used to direct the traversal and pruning of the allocation tree.

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