a1 Department of Computing Science, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen, AB9 2UB, Scotland
It is often claimed that it is easy to write expert systems. This claim was examined by monitoring experienced programmers learning to use the S.I knowledge engineering tool. Their achievements and difficulties were examined using a framework that has emerged from previous research into novices learning to use standard programming languages. Even though the experienced programmers all had several years' experience of programming in more than one standard language, there were similarities between their difficulties in learning to use S.I and the difficulties of complete novices learning to program in standard languages.
The experienced programmers were however able to overcome their initial difficulties fairly quickly, but it is argued that complete novices would not find it so easy to do so. Also the experienced programmers did take time to develop a repertoire of schemeta for representing different kinds of factual, judgemental and procedural knowledge. It was concluded that in S.1, as with other programming languages and softwares tools, it is easy to learn how to do simple things, but difficult, even for experienced programmers to learn how to do more complex things.
No criticism of S.1 is implied. S.1 was found to be a suitable vehicle for introducing non-trivial knowledge engineering concepts, and we believe that similar difficulties would occur in learning to use other knowledge engineering tools.