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Blackboard Architecture

This metaphor was widely adopted by the knowledge based systems that were a mainstay of the 1980s artificial intelligence boom. The idea is that a set of actors each examine a shared understanding and, if they see a situation that they can help with they will do the specialised work and put their results back to the blackboard.

Marvin Minsky's "Society of Mind" used this as a model for how the brain works, a number of specialised "agents" each use a template to discover patterns and, if they find a match fill out a deduction. These deductions then become available for other agents to build on. However this model is not just valuable for artificial intelligence work, it can also be seen as a good model for the way many information based businesses function.

This model is usually a more realistic view than the Production Line. However it is both less familiar and more complex so many clients ignore this view. In reality the blackboard is usually a better match than the Production Line since the order of work is modified by the data available and reworking is both common and expected.

In practice Knowledge Based Systems implementations often extended the approach, controlling the order in which agents examined the existing situation. This allowed them to select between working from the known to the unknown (Forward Chaining) or using knowledge of the result that is desired to work out which agents to call on (Backward Chaining).

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The following pages link to here: Knowledge Based Systems, Pin Factory

Previous Comments

4 Nov 2010

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excellent points and the details are more specific than somewhere else, thanks.

- Mark

16 Dec 2010

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You'll want to add a facebook button to your blog. I just bookmarked this article, although I had to complete it manually. Simply my $.02 :)

- Robson

Thanks for the feedback. We originally had buttons for Facebook, Diggit, Reddit and so on, on every page. However we found that it was a pain keeping them all up to date and no-one was using them (at all).

We removed them 18 months ago and you're the first person to comment. We still maintain the code, and we'll discuss your sugesstion, but I suspect we'd need a bit more convincing before we reinstated it.

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