The application of expert systems techniques in the design of durable concrete
This thesis describes work done exploring the application of expert system techniques to the domain of designing durable concrete. The nature of concrete durability design is described and some problems from the domain are discussed. Some related work on expert systems in concrete durability are described. Various implementation languages are considered - PROLOG and OPS5, and rejected in favour of a shell - CRYSTAL3 (later CRYSTAL4). Criteria for useful expert system shells in the domain are discussed. CRYSTAL4 is evaluated in the light of these criteria. Modules in various sub-domains (mix-design, sulphate attack, steel-corrosion and alkali aggregate reaction) are developed and organised under a BLACKBOARD system (called DEX). Extensions to the CRYSTAL4 modules are considered for different knowledge representations. These include LOTUS123 spreadsheets implementing models incorporating some of the mathematical knowledge in the domain. Design databases are used to represent tabular design knowledge. Hypertext representations of the original building standards texts are proposed as a tool for providing a well structured and extensive justification/help facility. A standardised approach to module development is proposed using hypertext development as a structured basis for expert systems development. Some areas of deficient domain knowledge are highlighted particularly in the use of data from mathematical models and in gaps and inconsistencies in the original knowledge source Digests.