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Beyond the Knowledge Level: Descriptions of Rational Behavior for Sharing and Reuse

Franz Schmalhofer; J. Stuart Aitken; Lyle E. Bourne jr.
DFKI, DFKI Research Reports (RR), Vol. 94-05, 1994.


The currently dominant approach to the sharing and reuse of knowledge strives to develop ontologies, with clearly constrained interpretations. The idea of ontological commitments is based on the knowledge level perspective. Several shortcomings of the knowledge level have been identified (Clancey, 1991). Pursuing Clancey's argument, if KBS are to be situated in ever changing environments, their purposes and significance will change over time and they have to be redescribed accordingly. The behavior descriptions proposed in this paper emphasize coherent and consistent descriptions in some given context, rather than predicting performance from knowledge and goals. When systems are embedded into larger contexts, their behavior is redescribed so that the additional significance is shown. Behavior level descriptions thus provide the flexibility for conceptual changes in a knowledge-based system. We demonstrate how behavior descriptions can be used for documenting KBS and present an example of the documentation of a KBS for elevator configuration.