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General Problem Solver

general problem solver, general problem solver newell and simon
General Problem Solver or GPS was a computer program created in 1959 by Herbert A Simon, JC Shaw, and Allen Newell intended to work as a universal problem solver machine Any problem that can be expressed as a set of well-formed formulas WFFs or Horn clauses, and that constitute a directed graph with one or more sources viz, axioms and sinks viz, desired conclusions, can be solved, in principle, by GPS Proofs in the predicate logic and Euclidean geometry problem spaces are prime examples of the domain the applicability of GPS of predicate logic theorems It was based on Simon and Newell's theoretical work on logic machines GPS was the first computer program which separated its knowledge of problems rules represented as input data from its strategy of how to solve problems a generic solver engine GPS was implemented in the third-order programming language, IPL

While GPS solved simple problems such as the Towers of Hanoi that could be sufficiently formalized, it could not solve any real-world problems because search was easily lost in the combinatorial explosion Put another way, the number of "walks" through the inferential digraph became computationally untenable In practice, even a straightforward state space search such as the Towers of Hanoi can become computationally infeasible, albeit judicious prunings of the state space can be achieved by such elementary AI techniques as alpha-beta pruning and min-max

The user defined objects and operations that could be done on the objects, and GPS generated heuristics by Means-ends analysis in order to solve problems It focused on the available operations, finding what inputs were acceptable and what outputs were generated It then created subgoals to get closer and closer to the goal

The GPS paradigm eventually evolved into the Soar architecture for Artificial Intelligence

See also

  • Solver computer science


  • Newell, A; Shaw, JC; Simon, HA 1959 Report on a general problem-solving program Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Processing pp 256–264
  • Newell, A 1963 A guide to the general problem-solver program GPS-2-2 RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California Technical Report No RM-3337-PR
  • Ernst, GW and Newell, A 1969 GPS: a case study in generality and problem solving Academic Press revised version of Ernst's 1966 dissertation, Carnegie Institute of Technology
  • Newell, A, and Simon, H A 1972 Human problem solving Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
  • Norvig, Peter 1992 Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp San Francisco, California: Morgan Kaufmann pp 109–149 ISBN 1-55860-191-0 
  • Noyes, James L 1992 Artificial Intelligence with Common Lisp Lexington: D C Heath pp 343–371 ISBN 0-669-19473-5 

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