How does a knowledge base differ from a database?  What special variables would need to be considered when implementing a knowledge base?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a substantial difference between a database and a knowledgebase.  The former represents merely the accumulation of information processed in such a way that linkages can be easily made between concepts or words simply on the basis of cross-referencing.  In the age of modern computing, with memory and processing speeds attaining astronomical capacities, databases can involve millions of pieces of information that, when inserted into a common framework, can be readily accessed by an operator or analyst and connections made between multiple bits of information.  Databases are structured according to specified requirements, an enable users to access the desired information quickly and efficiently.

Knowledgebases, in contrast, are far more complex, and require far greater computing capabilities, and essentially represent the attainment of artificial intelligence.  Whereas databases are strictly useful for accessing information on a desired topic, knowledge bases go beyond that, and involve the extrapolation of data for processing into “knowledge,” in effect, concepts, theories, decision-making, etc.  The software program, in other words, learns to “think.”  It learns to process information into thoughts.  While a database can be continuously expanded with additional bits of information or keywords, it will never be anything more than a database – an instrument for accessing the information that was put into it.  A knowledge based system, however, can absorb additional information and adapt accordingly with respect to the intelligence it provides. 

The demands of a knowledge-based system can be formidable.  Whereas databases are expanded through the continuous inputting of names, places, dates, etc., any conclusions drawn on the basis of searches of those databases are entirely dependent upon the skills and knowledge level of the people exploiting the data.  With a knowledge-based system, the information inserted into the existing program can fundamentally alter the intelligence the system provides.  As new concepts or theories are formulated, they can be added to the system and users can receive entirely different findings.  In short, knowledgebases actually process information into intelligible findings.  Databases can provide clues to further research.  The variables that go into construction of a knowledgebase are far more extensive and can include concepts for which a database would be useless.