Johnson, Colin G.
Understanding complex systems through examples: A framework for qualitative example finding.
Systems Research and Information Systems, 10
Many complex information systems in science, business and design have the characteristic that we can classify objects in the system in some way, but that these classifications are distributed through a parameter space in some complex fashion. In order for a human to get an understanding of the system, we would like to present this user with one example of an object for each class. Examples of such problems can be found in information retrieval, bioinformatics, computational geometry, computer-aided design, software testing and cellular automata. In this paper we will show how problems in all these areas can be put into a general framework of finding qualitative examples, and argue that general heuristic approaches to this type of problem are an important and neglected area of machine learning. We contrast this with some other well-studied problems, showing how this problem is distinct and investigating what we can learn from these problems. We then discuss some of the requirements for a heuristic to solve these problems, and mention some recent work on this using genetic algorithms.
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