Knowledge base specification for design cost estimation

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This thesis presents an effective method of representing cost estimate knowledge in a readily accessible format for generating accurate cost estimates. The investigation also includes development of a prototype tool for modifying this knowledge and producing cost estimates. Models of the important cost estimate inputs (equipment lists and device lists) and the resulting cost estimate have been developed. The cost estimate model is represented in the form of a context-free grammar. Key concepts and heuristics were abstracted following various discussions with an electrical engineer familiar with producing estimates. The individual was also consulted during the implementation of a user interface for the prototype tool. An investigation into the integration of the prototype with Other software tools (e.g., Lotus 1-2-3, WKS Library ofC functions) was also conducted. The resulting prototype is called Assistant for Cost Estimating (ACE). It permits the user to record a client's preferences for a particular manufacturer and use this infonnation to generate an estimate which reflects the economy and even geographic location of the project. The prototype was developed using ART-IM version 2.1 (Automatic Reasoning Tool - Information Manager) and the WKS Library of C functions using an IBM PS/2 Model 70 (Intel 80386 processor).