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(artificial intelligence)
A large knowledge-based system.

Cyc is a very large, multi-contextual knowledge base and inference engine, the development of which started at the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) in Austin, Texas during the early 1980s.

Over the past eleven years the members of the Cyc team, lead by Doug Lenat, have added to the knowledge base a huge amount of fundamental human knowledge: facts, rules of thumb, and heuristics for reasoning about the objects and events of modern everyday life.

Cyc is an attempt to do symbolic AI on a massive scale. It is not based on numerical methods such as statistical probabilities, nor is it based on neural networks or fuzzy logic. All of the knowledge in Cyc is represented declaratively in the form of logical assertions. Cyc presently contains approximately 400,000 significant assertions, which include simple statements of fact, rules about what conclusions to draw if certain statements of fact are satisfied, and rules about how to reason with certain types of facts and rules. The inference engine derives new conclusions using deductive reasoning.

To date, Cyc has made possible ground-breaking pilot applications in the areas of heterogeneous database browsing and integration, captioned image retrieval, and natural language processing.

In January of 1995, a new independent company named Cycorp was created to continue the Cyc project. Cycorp is still in Austin, Texas. The president of Cycorp is Doug Lenat.

The development of Cyc has been supported by several organisations, including Apple, Bellcore, DEC, DoD, Interval, Kodak, and Microsoft.

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This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (
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