Most expert systems perform a task on behalf of the user. The task usually involves gathering and analyzing data, and recommending or initiating the appropriate action. However, expert systems can also play an important role in showing the user how to perform a task. In this role, the expert system provides support until it eventually becomes of decreasing importance as its knowledge base is transferred to the user. This category includes Help Systems, Coaching Systems, and Tutorial Systems. In this paper, we discuss the development of an Intelligent Advisor combining the three functions in a system to assist the user in acquiring and refining the knowledge required to carry out a design task. The combined system provides a means of introducing a training facility as an integral part of the work environment. The primary goal of our project is the creation of a system in which the generic advisor components are identified along with the methodology required to adapt them to specific applications. The conceptual modelling phase of database design was chosen as the application domain to develop the system and to demonstrate feasibility. An initial prototype has been implemented, which illustrates the operation of the system in each of the three modes as applied to database modelling. The technology is currently being extended to a second application domain.
ERMA (Entity-Relationship Modelling Advisor) is a knowledge-based system that serves as a consultant to the user of a computer-based design tool, providing advice as required.