Full accounts of the JTEC team's visits to three universities and
three national projects are contained in Chapters
4 and 5, respectively, and are not repeated
here in full. Addresses for these organizations can be found here.
Site: FUJITSU LABORATORIES LTD.
Kawasaki 211, Japan
Date Visited: March 23, 1992
Dr. Shigeru Sato
Mr. Tomoharu Mohri
Deputy Mgr., Knowledge Processing Laboratory
Mr. Jun'ichi Tanahashi
General Mgr., Adv. Inf. Sys. Div.
Mr. Hiromu Hayashi
General Mgr., Processor Div.
Fundamental Informatics Section
Knowledge Processing Laboratory
From Fujitsu Ltd: Susumu Murakami
Mgr., 2nd Section, CAE Dept., Eng. Support Div.
Section Manager, Knowledge Based Systems
Section Manager, AI Development & Support
Section, SE Information Development Dept.
Fujitsu, the second largest computer company in the world, has been
marketing AI tools, especially ESHELL, since 1984. They also have
several products, e.g., for machine translation, and hardware for
neuro-computing. ESHELL, which used to be the best selling ES tool in
Japan, is now trailing behind Hitachi's ES/KERNEL. ESHELL began as a
tool on mainframes using UTLISP. The market is shifting to products on
UNIX-based workstations written in C. Fujitsu is trying to recapture
the market with FORTRAN-based and COBOL-based tools, but its commitment
to mainframes may be bucking the trend (not only in the ES area).
There are three groups involved with KBS:
The Research Laboratory (Sato et al.)
Product Development (Komoda, Murakami)
Systems Engineering/Knowledge Engineering, which makes the contacts
with clients (Usami)
The meeting began with a number of interesting comments, from
director of the laboratory, Dr. Sato, whose association with KBS
technology goes back to the late 1970s:
- The growth of AI has not been as big as expected, as measured in
total sales, but is nonetheless growing. The technology does, however,
contribute to the sale of Fujitsu hardware.
- There has been a rapid downsizing (in both the physical and
economic senses). Consequently other technologies have gained in
priority over AI, and manpower has shifted over to these newer
technologies, such as multimedia and distributed networking.
- The principal barrier to growth is technological. They have
difficulty in constructing knowledge systems for complex customer
- ICOT is perceived as having had both positive and negative effects:
- Positive: increased the level of basic research in computer
science; developed parallel computing architectures, and increased the
number of researchers.
- Negative: emphasis on PROLOG was good for research, but bad for
products; development of PIM machines did not benefit Fujitsu, which is
now using 1024 SPARC chips in its AP1000 with a peak capacity of 8.53
GFlops (intended usage is in ultra high-speed scientific
- Knowledge acquisition is the primary technical barrier, and is the
only interesting research topic in ES, but the problem may be too
Our hosts at Fujitsu did a very good job in filling out Part A of
the questionnaire. Highlights:
- They have shipped more than 3,000 ES shells, and have sold
approximately 20 KBSs.
- They have about 240 systems that they use internally, and know of
about 250 systems built by their customers, but could not categorize
any of them in terms of operationality. Later in the questionnaire,
however, they stated that about 20 percent of the projects started get
as far as a completed prototype; and of those, 20 percent get to an
operational system status. A best overall guess is that five percent of
the reported systems are in routine use. The current success rate in
fielding expert systems is better than five percent. Because of the
experience base they now have, the success rate is somewhere between 75
and 95 percent. They are better able to select problems which are
solvable by this technology.
- The largest percentage of systems developed for internal use are
for planning or scheduling. Their most successful system is PSS, a
production support system for planning assembly and test of printed
circuit boards. It's a relatively small system, built on ESHELL, and
runs on a mainframe. The system, which is in daily use, saves about one
person per year by speeding up the planning time. A workstation version
is under development.
- Fujitsu stresses integration of AI and conventional systems. The
company now has ES tools written in COBOL (YPS/KR) and in FORTRAN
(FORTRAN/KR), to support integration.
- 60 to 75 percent of the development costs of a system goes into the
interface. Better graphical user interfaces (GUIs) are needed. That
need has stimulated work on a GUI called GUIDEPOWER.
- Fujitsu worked with NKK on the blast furnace system, which is the
largest application the company has been associated with.
Mr. Maruyama presented a novel approach to solving constraint
satisfaction and optimization problems which purports to be better than
integer programming (Maruyama, Minoda et al. 1991). He works at the
Knowledge Processing Laboratory, which has a staff of about 40.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ON QUESTIONNAIRE:
ESHELL cannot keep up with real time. FORTRAN and C are
the procedural languages used.
Fujitsu gave up development half way through one
project due to manpower and budget shortages.
Existing tools are useful up to 2,000 rules, several
thousand objects, though NKK used 4,000 rules in ESHELL for its blast
Question 19 (main problems seen with existing technology):
- GUI, as mentioned above.
- Knowledge changes very fast in the real world (e.g., banking),
hence the maintenance cost is too high.
- There are few development tools, e.g., testing tools.
- AI does not apply well to CASE.
Published: May 1993; WTEC