In the course of its varied activities, NASA makes extensive use of computer programs, as do other technology generating agencies of the federal government. To meet their software requirements, these agencies have of necessity developed many new types of programs.
These programs constitute a valuable resource that is available for reuse. Much of the software is directly applicable to secondary use with little or no modification; most of it can be adapted to special purposes at a cost less than that of developing a new program.
Therefore, American businesses can save time and money by taking advantage of a special NASA service that offers programs capable of being adapted to new ones. NASA's mechanism for making the software available to businesses and other clients is the Computer Software Management and Information Center (COSMIC)~.
Located at the University of Georgia, COSMIC gets a continuous flow of government-developed software and identifies those programs that can be adapted to secondary usage. The center's library contains more than 1,200 programs for such purposes as structural analysis, artificial intelligence, computational fluid dynamics, thermal analysis, image processing, project management and a great variety of other functions. COSMIC customers can purchase a program for a fraction of the original cost and get a return many times the investment, even when the cost of adapting a program to a new use is included.
An example of how this service aids industry is the use of a COSMIC program by American Airlines Knowledge Systems, a group of software engineers who develop systems utilizing artificial intelligence technologies for such applications as aircraft maintenance, aircraft scheduling, fare administration, flight operations and computer operations.
The group employs a variety of knowledge-based and expert systems, among them a NASA-developed, COSMIC- supplied software package known as CLIPS (C Language Integrated Production System). CLIPS is used for three purposes: as a rapid prototyping tool, to develop production prototypes, and to develop production applications. An example of the latter is CLIPS' use in the airline process known as "Hub SIAAshing," a knowledge-based system that recommends contingency plans for American Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) during inclement weather or other airport/airways disruptions where severe schedule reductions must be made.
Prior to the introduction of Hub SIAAshing, SOC (left) used printouts of flight operations transactions to locate contingency plans manually, used colored markers to highlight candidate plans, weeded through the possibilities and marked them manually. This labor intensive process has been automated by Hub SIAAshing, which integrates the CLIPS shell with more traditional technologies.
With Hub SIAAshing, the search for appropriate patterns is accomplished programmatically, saving time and allowing SOC coordinators to handle more difficult situations. Hub SIAAshing locates the candidates for schedule reduction and assimilates much of the information necessary to facilitate educated decision-making, thus minimizing the negative impact in situations where it is impossible to operate all scheduled flights.
*COSMIC is a registered trademark of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.