Electrical Design: A Problem for Artificial Intelligence Research

Unknown author (1977-06-01)

This report outlines the problem of intelligent failure recovery in a problem-solver for electrical design. We want our problem solver to learn as much as it can from its mistakes. Thus we cast the engineering design process on terms of Problem Solving by Debugging Almost-Right Plans, a paradigm for automatic problem solving based on the belief that creation and removal of "bugs" is an unavoidable part of the process of solving a complex problem. The process of localization and removal of bugs called for by the PSBDARP theory requires an approach to engineering analysis in which every result has a justification which describes the exact set of assumptions it depends upon. We have developed a program based on Analysis by Propagation of Constraints which can explain the basis of its deductions. In addition to being useful to a PSBDARP designer, these justifications are used in Dependency-Directed Backtracking to limit the combinatorial search in the analysis routines. Although the research we will describe is explicitly about electrical circuits, we believe that similar principles and methods are employed by other kinds of engineers, including computer programmers.