A knowledge-based system approach is applied to the design of a document retrieval system for online retrieval of bibliographic material. The main components of the system are a language interface that understands user queries in pseudo natural language (i.e. queries that are restricted to subject domain concepts), a retrieval component that combines the expertise of subject-domain and retrieval experts, a help system that aids users in formulating and reformulating queries, and a user model builder that infers specific user characteristics. A comprehensive mathematical model based on fuzzy sets and fuzzy relations has been defined for the thesaurus and the retrieval mechanism and a prototypical system has been implemented in a modular fashion to test system response to changes in model parameters.
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