Sponsors of this JTEC study defined the dimensions of the study as follows:

  1. Business sector applications of expert systems
  2. Advanced knowledge-based systems in industry
  3. Advanced knowledge-based systems research in universities
  4. Government laboratories, ICOT, the laboratory of the Japanese Fifth Generation Computer Project
  5. EDR -- research and development on electronic dictionaries (lexical knowledge base) for natural language processing

Finally, we were asked to observe the fuzzy systems work being done in Japan, any neural network applications that affect expert system development, and the new national project known as Real World Computing.

Half of this study effort has been aimed at applications of expert systems in the business sector. Knowledge-based system research in industry comprises fifteen percent of the effort, and knowledge-based system research in universities another fifteen percent. Two national laboratories (ICOT and EDR) each account for five percent of the total. The remaining ten percent focuses on miscellaneous topics.

During the week of our visit, the JTEC team visited 19 Japanese sites. Applications of expert systems to business sector problems and the industrial knowledge-based system research together accounted for 12 of the 19 visits. University knowledge-based systems research accounted for three, ICOT and EDR accounted for two, and other visits two.

We chose the industrial sites to be visited based on the following criteria:

  1. Computer manufacturing companies that were known to be very active in KBS applications and research
  2. Non-computer companies at which there was at least one well-known expert system application
  3. Selected companies from certain industry groups that were known to be active and highly competent in building expert systems applications (for example, the steel, construction, electric power and communications industries)

Visits to university professors were selected on the basis of the panel members' personal knowledge of the leaders in academic knowledge-based system research in Japan. As it happens, these leadership positions were held by professors at the major universities: University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, and Osaka University.

Finally, we scheduled a special visit with the editor and the staff of Nikkei AI Newsletter to check facts that we believed we had accumulated and impressions that we had. Nikkei AI is the leading Japanese news publication in the field of knowledge-based systems applications and research.

Published: May 1993; WTEC Hyper-Librarian