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Case Based Reasoning FAQ
Induce-It is a tool that creates case-based expert systems from Microsoft Excel spreadsheet databases. Case-based reasoning is appropriate for applications that require the representation and storage of actual experiences. Case-based reasoning retrieves and adapts cases from a case database, based on the similarity of past cases to a goal problem case. Using Induce-It, problem-solving corresponds to the steps of (i) finding the cases most similar to the current problem; (ii) adapting and extrapolating the past answers from the best cases; (iii) performing the action indicated in one or more "answer" fields for the current problem. If needed, the new problems can be easily entered as a new case.

Who Uses Induce-It?

Developing an Induce-It application consists of building a case database and installing the appropriate case similarity functions into an "inductive database." Induce-It provides a comprehensive set of similarity and extrapolation functions, accessed by a customized menu ribbon. Induce-It interfaces with all standard Microsoft Excel editing, charting, database, button, dialog, and macro commands. Induce-It is compatible with the latest versions of Excel - both under 32- and 64-bit Windows implementations. . The comprehensive interactive help takes you through the process of building and using a case-based application.

System Requirements

Induce-It requires Microsoft Excel -- Version 2007 and later.  


Induce-It inputs are any set of cases that can be read by Microsoft Excel in any one of 13 different formats. The Induce-It output is an Excel case-based spreadsheet, that represents a case database, case similarity rules, and case extrapolation and adaptation rules.

Size and Speed

With the Excel user interface, the maximum size of Induce-It case databases is about 16,000 records, having at most 256 fields. Induce-It case database retrieval is very efficient because it uses the case and field similarities as search indices.

Induce-It Supports the following algorithms for case-based reasoning:

  • Free Form Text
    Induce-It computes similarities between fields based on string matching (with wildcards ).
  • Numbers
    Computes field similarities using four different ratio and distance metrics.
  • Ranks
    Computes field similarities between Ranks: ordered lists denoting a preference.
  • User-Defined Field
    Computes field similarities with a user-defined formula.
  • Ranges
    Induce-It maps numerical field values onto symbolic Ranges.
  • Scales
    Maps free-form textual field values onto numerical values (Scales).
  • Hierarchies
    Maps free-form textual hierarchies (inheritance structures) onto numerical values. For example, "peas" can match "spinach" because they are both green vegetables.
  • Linear Weights
    Computes similarities between cases based on the weighted importance of each field.
  • Fuzzy Logic Scores
    Computes case similarities using different fuzzy operators for AND, OR, and NOT.
  • Euclidean Scores
    Computes case similarities based on weighted Euclidean (least mean square) distance.
  • Cosine Scores
    Computes case similarities based on a correlation measure.
  • Extrapolation
    Predicts the value of a case field using the field values of the best matching cases.
  • Adaptation
    Given a case, determines alternate similar cases based on the case field structure.
  • Install New Case
    Install a new case into the case database.
  • Extract Answers
    Extracts the best cases in ranked order using a user-defined database match criteria
  • Run Shell
    An alternative to spreadsheet input: runs an interactive dialog to acquire a new case.


The basic single-user license includes the case-based reasoning development tools and case database utilities integrated with the Microsoft Excel user inteface macros and dynamic link libraries; an on-line tutorial; a 120 Page Manual; and sample Applications. Induce-It comes with EMail Technical Support.


Case-Based Reasoning and Induce-It FAQ

What is Case-Based Reasoning?

Case-Based reasoning is based on searching a database that stores cases -- a representation of past problem profiles and solutions -- for solutions to similar problems. The answer to a problem is adapted from the answer to the most similar problem that I already solved. Case-based answers are adapted from the closest matching cases, ranked by case score, and displayed to users in a sorted list. Case adaptation reconstructs variations, mutations, or versions of basic cases, in order to represent all possibilities in a smaller case database.

How do Case-Based Expert Systems Differ from Rule-Based Expert Systems?

Case-based reasoning is inductive (based on measuring case similarity), rather than deductive (based on logic and consistency). Builders do not have to learn an IF-THEN programming language. Building a case-based system is easy: new cases and new fields added to the case database do not have to be consistent with previous cases.

How do Case-Based Expert Systems Differ from Neural Networks?

Case-based systems retrieve and adapt cases that are stored in a case database. Neural networks are functions that match input patterns to output patterns: no case is retrieved. Neural networks resort to statistics for an explanation; case-based systems display the most similar cases for an explanation, and can be used for querying and what-if analysis. Case-based reasoning systems are most useful for collaborative applications.

What is Induce-It?

Induce-It is a tool that creates case-based expert systems from Microsoft Excel spreadsheet databases. Induce-It is the first system that integrates the versatility of spreadsheets with the power of case-based reasoning and case adaptation. You can use Induce-It case-based spreadsheets as smart input forms; as smart databases (that support fuzzy queries); and as spreadsheet expert systems to enhance existing spreadsheet models.

Is Induce-It Easy to Use?

Induce-It provides over 45 new commands (configured in 4 new Excel menubars) for developing case-based expert systems within Microsoft Excel. Induce-It also provides an interactive 30 minute tutorial that takes you through the process of building and using a case-based spreadsheet.

What tools are provided for Case Retrieval and Case Adaptation?

Induce-It provides field similarity functions for case fields of type Symbol, Free Form Text, Number, Range, Scale, Rank, List, Hierarchy, as well as "User-Defined" similarity functions that you specify by a spreadsheet formula; case similarity functions for combining field similarities based on field importance (weighted, fuzzy, and Bernoulli scores); routines for parametrized and structural case adaptation; and utilities for concept formation (case clustering), statistics (Dixon outlier test), and case database tuning.

Can Induce-It Portable and Customizable Case-Based Reasoning Systems?

Induce-It runs under all implementations of Microsoft Excel (version 4.0 or higher), including Windows, Macintosh, and Sun under Solaris. Induce-It macros interface with all Excel spreadsheet commands for charting, for spreadsheet formatting and for reporting and printing. You can customize an application by specifying case and field explanations, messages, and instructions in your Excel case-based spreadsheet.

How do you Build a Case-Based Expert System Spreadsheet with Induce-It?

If you know how to use a spreadsheet, then you know how to use Induce-It. Building a case-based expert system spreadsheet is a three-step process:
  1. Specify the Case Database
    Select case profiles and import them as spreadsheet data. Specify case field types, field structures, field similarity functions, case similarity functions, and case adaptation functions. Specify case and field explanations, instructions, and messages.
  2. Tune the Case Database.
    Match the solutions of stored cases, with cases whose field values best match a test problem new case fields. Induce-It provides special chart, database, and statistical functions to assist you in tuning case databases.
  3. Customize the Application.
    Use Excel's formatting commands to configure your case-based spreadsheet application -- Induce-It interfaces with all Excel editing, charting, database, and macro commands.


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