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Computer-Based Medical Consultations: MYCIN

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This text is a description of a computer-based system designed to assist physicians with clinical decision-making. This system, termed MYCIN, utilizes computer techniques derived principally from the subfield of computer science known as artificial intelligence (AI). MYCIN's task is to assist with the decisions involved in the selection of appropriate therapy for patients with infections.

MYCIN contains considerable medical expertise and is also a novel application of computing technology. Thus, this text is addressed both to members of the medical community, who may have limited computer science backgrounds, and to computer scientists with limited knowledge of medical computing and clinical medicine. Some sections of the text may be of greater interest to one community than to the other. A guide to the text follows so that you may select those portions most pertinent to your particular interests and background.

The complete book in a single file.


William J. Clancey

AI Magazine

Origins The idea of developing a tutoring program from the MYCIN knowledge base was first described by Ted Shortliffe (1974). In fact, it was the mixed-initiative dialogue of the SCHOLAR teaching program (Carbonell, 1970) that inspired Shortliffe to produce the consultation dialogue of MYCIN. He conceived of it as a question-answer program in SCHOLAR's style, using a semantic network of disease knowledge. Shortly after I joined the MYCIN project in early 1975, Bruce Buchanan and I decided that developing a tutoring program would be my thesis project. The GUIDON program was operational in early 1979.




Al Magazine 25

AI Magazine

Packet Radio Terminal System Evaluation Tom Ellis and Steve Saunders Work intended to result in a demonstration-level portable terminal to test and evaluate various solutions to the issues raised by extreme portability in the packet-radio environment. The Stanford Heuristic Programming Project: Goals and Activities by the Staff of the Heuristic Programming Project The Heuristic Programming Project (HPP) of the Stanford University Computer Science Department is a laboratory of about fifty people-faculty, staff, and graduate studentswhose main goals are these: ...to model, and thereby to gain a deep understanding of, the nature of scientific reasoning processes in various types of scientific problems, and various areas of science and medicine; ...as part of the methodology, and as a coordinate activity, to construct "Expert Systems"-programs that achieve high levels of performance on tasks that normally require significant human expertise for their solutidn; the HPP therefore has a natural applications orientation. The HPP was started by Professor Edward A. Feigenbaum and Professor Joshua Lederberg (now President, Rockefeller University) as the DENDRAL project in 1965. Professor Bruce Buchanan joined shortly thereafter, and is Co-Principal Investigator of the HPP. For its computing facilities, the HPP uses the Stanfordbased SUMEX-AIM National Resource for Applications of AI to Medicine and Biology (a pair of DEC KI-10s and a DEC 2020); and the SU-SCORE machine (a DEC 2060).