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Many potential applications (e.g., transportation planning, design and engineering tools, intelligence analysis) need knowledge bases one or more orders of magnitude larger than today's. Particularly given the time and effort required to build any knowledge base, these considerations dictate that bigger, better, and cheaper systems can only be achieved through much greater sharing and reuse of knowledge bases. SHELTER is intended to offer an environment for collaborative, team development of large knowledge based systems in a manner facilitating sharing and reuse. It provides an integrated solution to two companion problems: managing the size and complexity of knowledge bases, and managing the size and complexity of the activities required to correctly use, modify, or extend them.


SHELTER facilitates sharing and reuse by helping developers find candidate material to reuse and ensuring that it is used properly. There are two key ideas in SHELTER. One is an interaction paradigm, embodied in a set of browsing and retrieval tools, that encourages reuse of knowledge structures. The paradigm finds and presents pre-existing knowledge structures consistent with those currently being created, allowing users to "borrow rather than build" whenever possible. The other is a set of methods for helping knowledge base system builders record assumptions and guidance about how the knowledge should be used and extended, using structured forms which the system can interpret to assist developers in ensuring the appropriateness of later modifications. SHELTER is being developed initially to support construction of knowledge bases in ISI's LOOM. knowledge representation and programming language. However, it is implemented in a modular fashion facilitating porting to other representation systems in the same basic representational family, in particular such common standard knowledge representation systems as are developed in DARPA's Knowledge Representation Standards effort. At the end of the effort, the final version of SHELTER will be made available to DoD and the DARPA research community for consideration as a common foundation for further research and development in knowledge representation construction environments.

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