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Up until now Hitachi has been developing expert systems using development tools such as the PROLOG programming workbench. However, because of certain inherent characteristics of expert systems, improvements tend to take a long time to implement. Hitachi has recently applied object- oriented techniques to the development of a crew diagram expert system for Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co., Ltd. (NNR). The crew diagram system generates crew diagrams as a part of NNR's General Train Information System. The diagram is constructed by taking into account several factors, such as labor contract specifications, characteristics of stations, and change spots.
Up until now, this has been a difficult task because the process has not been well defined. Hitachi selected an object-oriented approach because it provides a step-by-step completion process, and makes it easy to correct and expand functions. Over 100 items were improved over the course of the development using the step-by-step approach. The result is a system that is flexible in terms of the ability to scale the size of the system according to requirements. Furthermore, due to the flexibility and case of verification, characteristics specific to object-oriented implementations, the system was able to be realized in a short time.