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This book introduces some AI-based concepts using Visual Studio .NET. Starting with Chapter 3, the book will present six practical applications that can be designed with Visual Studio.NET. All the code for the sample applications is available in both Visual Basic and C# versions on the book's Web site at http://www.awprofessional.com/title/0321246268 and http://www.cutsolutions.net.
The first two applications deal with the newly released Microsoft Speech Server product. This product allows you to create Web-based applications that communicate with the user through speech. Speech processing is already important to companies that want to automate their call centers. As society becomes more mobile, speech processing will be critical to enabling mobile workers. Readers interested in learning about this natural interface will want to focus on Chapters 2, 3, and 4.
Starting with Chapter 5, the book switches to utilizing Microsoft Analysis Services. Analysis Services can be used to build data-mining models against historical data in a relational database. These models can then be used to make predictions about the data. Data mining involves more than just querying a database or creating a fancy report for business executives. It involves uncovering trends and patterns in large quantities of data. In many cases, the trends and patterns discovered were not even thought to have existed.
Chapter 7 examines the concept of rule-based programming. Rules encapsulate the business logic of a program and are stored in a central repository. Each rule is assigned a priority, and the series of rules that is applied will depend on the program's input. Programs using this technique can be more reactive to their environments.
Software agents are explored in Chapter 8. Just as a sports agent represents the best interests of an athlete, a software agent is meant to represent the best interests of the user. An agent is generally independent, reactive, personalized, and communicative. Agents that are able to learn from their users are the most valuable and are thought to possess intelligent capabilities.
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