What Does Mycin Mean?

The Mycin project was a computer program used to diagnose infections and figure out which types of bacteria were causing them in patients. The system was actually not used in clinical practice, but it constitutes an excellent early example of a digital expert system and a precursor to much more sophisticated machine learning and knowledge base systems years later.


Techopedia Explains Mycin

Mycin was developed at Stanford University in the 1970s. The
knowledge base of the Mycin program had around 600 rules. Users would enter answers to a series of “yes” or “no” questions and short answer questions, and the program would eventually choose a weighted probability for a diagnosis. Part of the limitation of this early program was simply computing power – because the program was estimated to take up to half an hour to get through in a clinical environment, it was not considered effective enough to replace human diagnosis at the time. Ethical questions also contributed to the decision not to use Mycin for clinical diagnosis.

However, Mycin has proven to be a stepping stone to more modern systems and described in a book on rule-based expert systems by B. G. Buchanan and E. H. Shortliffe as “the granddaddy of them all” in terms of early artificial intelligence for machine learning systems.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…