Expert

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Expert System Applications: Agriculture
Ahmed Rafea Central Laboratory for Agricultural Expert Systems P.O.Box 100 Dokki Giza Egypt rafea@esic.claes.sci.eg

Introduction
Expert system can be defined as a tool for information generation from knowledge. Information is either found in various forms or generated from data and/or knowledge. Text, images, video, audio are forms of media on which information can be found, and the role of information technology is to invent, and devise tools to store and retrieve this information. Statistical information is a good example of information generated from data while advises generated by an expert system is a good example of information generated from knowledge. At the beginning, the concentration was mainly on textual information. Information technology used for textual information ranged from paper archiving tool to the sophisticated electronic computer software tools such as data base management systems, and hypertext tools. Images were very difficult to be included in an information system just few years ago till the scanners technology has been advanced together with the invention of the optical storage devises which have the capacity to store hundreds of mega bytes. This technology has enabled the developers to include images in their systems. Input peripherals to capture video and audio information have been also commercialized and are now available in the market. Storage of audio and video would be impossible unless large storage media were invented. The advances in data processing have led to generating efficiently information from data. Software tools and methodologies have been developed in the field of statistics and data analysis to process data and to let these data more informative to users who need them. Data base management systems have also contributed to efficient data storage, processing, and retrieval. The information is sometimes generated from knowledge and experience. When an expert in a specific area gives an advice to a less experienced person, he/she actual uses his/her knowledge and experience to generate this piece of information. This is a very precious piece of information because it is generated after long time of work and experience, and interaction with other experts and practitioners. Sometimes, this piece of information is not included in any form: text, audio, video, or other. Even if it is included, it is not linked with its scientific origin, especially if it is a combination of different domains, and methods. This piece of information gets more precious if it is the result of solving a problem which different specialists participate in its solution. In this case, it is rarely to find this piece of information in any text. Expert systems technology can play a very important role in generating information from knowledge.

This chapter is written to present different aspects related to agricultural expert systems namely: why expert system in agriculture, what applications have been developed, how these application have been developed, and what research issues should be addressed

Need of Expert Systems in Agriculture
The need of expert systems for technical information transfer in agriculture can be identified by recognizing the problems in using the traditional system for technical information transfer, and by proving that expert systems can help to overcome the problems addressed, and are feasible to be developed. Information Transfer Problems Static Information: Examining the information stored and available in the agriculture domain revealed that this information is static and may not respond to the growers need. All extension documentations give general recommendations because there are many factors if taken into consideration , so many different recommendations should be included in the document. Specialties Integration: Most of the extension documents handle problems related to certain specialty : plant pathology, entomology,...
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