The acquisition and representation of knowledge about complex multi-dynamic processes
This thesis is concerned with the acquisition, representation, modelling and discovery of knowledge in ill-structured domains. In the context of this work, these are referred to as domains that involve "complex multi-dynamic (CMD) processes". A CMD process is an abstract concept for thinking about combinations of different processes where any specification and explanation involves large amounts of heterogeneous knowledge. Due to manifold cognitive and representational problems, this particular knowledge is currently hard to acquire from experts and difficult to integrate in process models. The thesis focuses on two problems in the context of modelling, discovery and design of CMD processes, a knowledge representation problem and a knowledge acquisition problem. The thesis outlines a solution by drawing together different theoretical and technological developments related to the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science and Computer Science, including research on computational models of scientific discovery, process modelling, and representation design. An integrative framework of knowledge representations and acquisition methods has been established, underpinning a general paradigm of CMD processes. The framework takes a compositional, collaborative approach to knowledge acquisition by providing methods for the decomposition of complex process combinations into systems of process fragments and the localisation of structural change, process behaviour and function within these systems. Diagrammatic representations play an important role, as they provide a range of representational, cognitive and computational properties that are particularly useful for meeting many of the difficulties that CMD processes pose. The research has been applied to Industrial Bakery Product Manufacturing, a challenging domain that involves a variety of physical, chemical and biochemical process combinations. A software prototype (CMD SUITE) has been implemented that integrates the developed theoretical framework to create novel, interactive knowledge-based tools which are aimed towards ill-structured domains of knowledge. The utility of the software workbench and its underlying CMD Framework has been demonstrated in a case study. The bakery experts collaborating in this project were able to successfully utilise the software tools to express and integrate their knowledge in a new way, while overcoming limits of previously used models and tools.