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In the early days of AI development, there were no useful tools for developing AI applications. Part of the reason was that the entire field of computer programming was itself new and concepts such as object-oriented programming had yet to be imagined. New languages were developed to assist AI developers. The most popular of these were LISP and PROLOG. Although they are both still utilized, many current AI developers have turned to other languages, such as C++ or Java.
Like C++ and Java, Visual Basic.NET and C# are object-oriented. Thus they share some of the essential features that have led developers to choose those languages. Visual Studio.NET has developed into quite a robust tool and offers performance advantages not available in earlier versions of Visual Studio (especially where Visual Basic is concerned). These advantages, along with the fact that many developers have already adopted .NET, and especially Visual Basic, make it an excellent choice for developing the applications described in this book.
Many people are critical of Microsoft because they feel it is too dominating. However, the company's size and long-term success make it a perfect impetus for enhanced computing. More than likely Microsoft will continue to be a market leader for many years to come. With the continued advances of Microsoft Research (featured in the profile box "Microsoft Research (MSR)"), it will contribute to the advancement of technology. This book will identify some of the Microsoft tools and technologies already available to developers. In the final chapter, we will review new technologies on the horizon.
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