CARMA: A Case-Based Range Management Advisor

Karl Branting, John Hastings, Jeffrey Lockwood

CARMA is an advisory system for rangeland grasshopper infestations that demonstrates how AI technology can deliver expert advice to compensate for cutbacks in public services. CARMA uses two knowledge sources for the key task of predicting forage consumption by grasshoppers: cases obtained by asking a group of experts to solve representative hypothetical problems; and a numerical model of rangeland ecosystems. These knowledge sources are integrated through the technique of model-based adaptation, in which CBR is used to find an approximate solution and the model is used to adapt this approximate solution into a more precise solution. CARMA has been used in Wyoming counties since 1996. The combination of a simple interface, flexible control strategy, and integration of multiple knowledge sources makes CARMA accessible to inexperienced users and capable of producing advice comparable to that produced by human experts. Moreover, because CARMA embodies diverse forms of expertise, it has been used in ways that its developers did not anticipate, including pest management research, development of industry strategies, and in state and federal pest management policy decisions.

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