As knowledge bases grow in size and complexity, tools for extracting and encoding knowledge from the domain experts become critical for the success of an expert system project. Many of the available expert system tools are designed for a broad range of domains and therefore are often inadequate for building and maintaining domain-specific knowledge structures. This results from the fact that some structures may only exist implicitly or have semantics than cannot be interpreted by generic tools. On the other hand, a tool that is specific to just one application in a domain lacks useful generality. A tool should be flexible enough to be widely applicable within the domain for which it was designed. We describe our knowledge acquisition tool, ViewPoint, which achieves this flexibility by being build on top of a generic expert system architecture for the troubleshooting domain. ViewPoint allows (i) the handling of all knowledge structures present in a troubleshooting knowledge base, (ii) the viewing of many levels of detail, from the global overview of the knowledge base to the examination of a single object, and (iii) the ability to cope with the knowledge acquisition strategies used in the domain.
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