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Computers Get The Meaning

Software language uses artificial intelligence and language analysis to help computers reason more precisely than they do now
A new software language will let computers interpret the nuanced meaning behind a command in order to appropriately execute actions in manufacturing environments. Developed by federal government researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and colleagues in France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom, the process-specification-language software should make computers reason much more precisely than they do now.

The notion of process underlies the entire manufacturing cycle, coordinating the workflow within engineering and shop-floor manufacturing. The ISO 18629 PSL software employs artificial intelligence and language analysis to denote computer commands in the framework of a production plan. Simply, PSL acts as an interpreter between two applications--say, a system that runs a manufacturing process and one that schedules a process--eliminating any ambiguity of the definition of terms used by each system.

NIST reports that researchers have integrated some 300 concepts, such as duration and sequence, into its software structure. The language's artificial-intelligence capacity lets it interpret a command like "paint it before shipping it." The system understands that painting and drying must be completed before the next action, shipping.

Today people write point-to-point translators that don't get rid of all of the ambiguity and can't be reused. PSL's advantage is that it can be reused and employed to link a wide variety of applications, says Michael Gruninger, NIST's PSL project leader. Gruninger sees PSL being offered as a Web service, perhaps within a year.

The ISO 18629 language is especially suited for the exchange of process planning, validation, production scheduling, and control information for guiding manufacturing processes, NIST researchers say. The International Organization for Standardization, which has endorsed six sections of the standard, is reviewing the last of its three sections. Once ISO gives its blessing, software vendors can begin to use the language to build a variety of advanced manufacturing systems.