In this international collection of papers there is a wealth of knowledge on artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive science (CS) techniques applied to the problem of providing help systems mainly for the UNIX operating system. The research described here involves the representation of technical computer concepts, but also the representation of how users conceptualise such concepts. The collection looks at computational models and systems such as UC, Yucca, and OSCON programmed in languages such as Lisp, Prolog, OPS-5, and C which have been developed to provide UNIX help. These systems range from being menu-based to ones with natural language interfaces, some providing active help, intervening when they believe the user to have misconceptions, and some based on empirical studies of what users actually do while using UNIX. Further papers investigate planning and knowledge representation where the focus is on discovering what the user wants to do, and figuring out a way to do it, as well as representing the knowledge needed to do so. There is a significant focus on natural language dialogue where consultation systems can become active, metaphors, and users' mistaken beliefs.
Much can be learned from seeing how AI and CS techniques can be investigated in depth while being applied to a real test-bed domain such as help on UNIX.
Part I: Computational Models and Systems. About the Authors. Preface: Intelligent Help Systems for UNIX. Editorial Part I: Intelligent Help Systems for UNIX; Computational Models and Systems. An Intelligent Human-Computer Interface for Provision of On-Line Help; J. Jerrams-Smith. Virtues and Problems of an Active Help System for UNIX; M. Virvou, et al. The Berkeley UNIX Consultant Project; R. Wilensky, et al. The OSCON Operating System Consultant; P. Mc Kevitt. USCSH: An Active Intelligent Assistance System; M. Matthews, et al. Part II: Planning and Knowledge Representation. Editorial Part II: Intelligent Help Systems for UNIX: Planning and Knowledge Representation. The SINIX Consultant -- Towards a Theoretical Treatment of Plan Recognition; M. Hecking. Plan Realization for Complex Command Interaction in the UNIX Help Domain; S.J. Hegner. An Assumption-based Truth Maintenance System in Active Aid for UNIX Users; J. Jones, et al. What Do You Know about Mail? Knowledge Representation in the SINIX Consultant; C. Kemke. Part III: Natural Language Dialogue. Editorial Part III: Intelligent Help Systems for UNIX: Natural Language Dialogue. Planning Intelligent Responses in a Natural Language System; D.N. Chin. Strategies for Expressing Concise, Helpful Answers; D.N. Chin. Evaluating Plan Recognition Systems: Three Properties of a Good Explanation; J. Mayfield. Representing UNIX Domain Metaphors; J.H. Martin. Using Justification Patterns to Advise Novice UNIX Users; A. Quilici.