More on the holmes expert system shell

So how are these rules actually used? As mentioned, the rule parser we just met is part of the Python-coded holmes expert system shell. This book does not cover holmes in detail due to lack of space; see the PP2E\AI\ExpertSystem directory on the book CD (see for its code and documentation. But by way of introduction, holmes is an inference engine that performs forward and backward chaining deduction on rules that you supply. For example, a rule:

rule pylike if ?X likes coding, ?X likes spam then ?X likes Python can be used both to prove whether someone likes Python (backward, from "then" to "if"), and to deduce that someone likes Python from a set of known facts (forward, from "if" to "then"). Deductions may span multiple rules, and rules that name the same conclusion represent alternatives. Holmes also performs simple pattern-matching along the way to assign the variables that appear in rules (e.g., ?X), and is able to explain its work.

To make this all more concrete, let's step through a simple holmes session. The += interactive command adds a new rule to the rule base by running the rule parser, and @@ prints the current rule base:

C:..\PP2E\Ai\ExpertSystem\holmes\holmes>python -Holmes inference engine-

holmes> += rule pylike if ?X likes coding, ?X likes spam then ?X likes Python holmes> @@

rule pylike if ?X likes coding, ?X likes spam then ?X likes Python.

Now, to kick off a backward-chaining proof of a goal, use the ?- command. A proof explanation is shown here; holmes can also tell you why it is asking a question. Holmes pattern variables can show up in both rules and queries; in rules, variables provide generalization; in a query, they provide an answer:

holmes> ?- mel likes Python is this true: "mel likes coding" ? y is this true: "mel likes spam" ? y yes: (no variables)

show proof ? yes

"mel likes Python" by rule pylike

"mel likes coding" by your answer "mel likes spam" by your answer more solutions? n holmes> ?- linda likes ?X

is this true: "linda likes coding" ? y is this true: "linda likes spam" ? y yes: linda likes Python

Forward-chaining from a set of facts to conclusions is started with a +- command. Here, the same rule is being applied but in a different way:

holmes> +— chris likes spam, chris likes coding

I deduced these facts...

chris likes Python I started with these facts... chris likes spam chris likes coding time: 0.0

More interestingly, deductions chain through multiple rules when part of a rule's "if" is mentioned in another rule's "then":

holmes> += rule 1 if thinks ?x then human ?x holmes> += rule 2 if human ?x then mortal ?x holmes> ?- mortal bob is this true: "thinks bob" ? y yes: (no variables)

I deduced these facts... human bob mortal bob I started with these facts...

thinks bob time: 0.0

Finally, the @= command is used to load files of rules that implement more sophisticated knowledgebases; the rule parser is run on each rule in the file. Here is a file that encodes animal classification rules; other example files are available on the CD (see if you'd like to experiment:

holmes> @= ..4bases\zoo.kb holmes> ?- it is a penguin is this true: "has feathers" ? why to prove "it is a penguin" by rule 17 this was part of your original query. is this true: "has feathers" ? y is this true: "able to fly" ? n is this true: "black color" ? y yes: (no variables)

Type "stop" to end a session and "help" for a full commands list, and see the text files in the holmes directories for more details. Holmes is an old system written before Python 1.0 (and around 1993), but still works unchanged on all platforms under Python 1.5.2.

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