Automated Discovery in a Chemistry Laboratory

Jan M. Zytkow, Jieming Zhu, Abul Hussam

We describe an application of the discovery system FAHRENHEIT in a chemistry laboratory. Our emphasis is on automation of the discovery process as opposed to human intervention and on computer control over real experiments and data collection as opposed to the use of simulation. FAHRENHEIT performs automatically many cycles of experimentation, data collection and theory formation. We report on electrochemistry experiments of several hour duration, in which FAHRENHEIT has developed empirical equations (quantitative regularities) equivalent to those developed by an analytical chemist working on the same problem. The theoretical capabilities of FAHRENHEIT have been expanded, allowing the system to find maxima in a dataset, evaluate error for all concepts, and determine reproducibility of results. After minor adjustments FAHRENHEIT has been able to discover regularities in maxima locations and heights, and to analyse repeatability of measurements by the same mechanism, adapted from BACON, by which all numerical regularities are detected.

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