Model-based explanation of plant knowledge: Dissertation

Pertti Huuskonen

Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles


This thesis deals with computer explanation of knowledge related to design and operation of industrial plants. The needs for explanation are motivated through case studies and literature reviews. A general framework for analysing plant explanations is presented. Prototypes demonstrate key mechanisms for implementing parts of the framework. Power plants, steel mills, paper factories, and high energy physics control systems are studied to set requirements for explanation. The main problems are seen to be either lack or abundance of information. Design knowledge in particular is found missing at plants. Support systems and automation should be enhanced with ways to explain plant knowledge to the plant staff. A framework is formulated for analysing explanations of plant knowledge. It consists of three parts: 1. a typology of explanation, organised by the class of knowledge (factual, functional, or strategic) and by the target of explanation (processes, automation, or support systems), 2. an identification of explanation tasks generic for the plant domain, and 3. an identification of essential model types for explanation (structural, behavioural, functional, and teleological). The tasks use the models to create the explanations of the given classes. Key mechanisms are discussed to implement the generic explanation tasks. Knowledge representations based on objects and their relations form a vocabulary to model and present plant knowledge. A particular class of models, means-end models, are used to explain plant knowledge. Explanations are generated through searches in the models. Hypertext is adopted to communicate explanations over dialogue based on context. The results are demonstrated in prototypes. The VICE prototype explains the reasoning of an expert system for diagnosis of rotating machines at power plants. The Justifier prototype explains design knowledge obtained from an object-oriented plant design tool. Enhanced access mechanisms into on-line documentation are studied with examples from high-energy physics experiments. The Lepo prototype explains the behaviour of automation logic at various kinds of plants.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Awarding Institution
  • University of Oulu
  • Pietikäinen, Matti, Supervisor, External person
Award date30 May 1997
Place of PublicationEspoo
Print ISBNs951-38-5053-6
Electronic ISBNs951-38-5054-4
Publication statusPublished - 1997
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • knowledge based systems
  • expert systems
  • industrial automation
  • support systems
  • explanation mechanisms
  • hypertext
  • context-based interaction
  • HCI


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