Heuristic DENDRAL: a Program for Generating Explanatory Hypotheses in Organic Chemistry

"A computer program has been written which can formulate hypotheses from a given set of scientific data. The data consist of the mass spectrum and the empirical formula of an organic chemical compound. The hypotheses which are produced describe molecular structures which are plausible explanations of the data. The hypotheses are generated systematically within the program's theory of chemical stability and within limiting constraints which are inferred from the data by heuristic rules. The program excludes hypotheses inconsistent with the data and lists its candidate explanatory hypotheses in order of decreasing plausibility. The computer program is heuristic in that it searches for plausible hypotheses in a small subset of the total hypothesis space according to heuristic rules learned from chemists."

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