MYCIN is the name of a decision support system developed by Stanford University in the early- to mid-seventies, built to assist physicians in the diagnosis of infectious diseases. The system (also known as an "expert system") would ask a series of questions designed to emulate the thinking
of an expert in the field of infectious disease (hence the "expert-"), and from the responses to these questions give a list of possible diagnoses, with probability, as well as recommend treatment (hence the "decision support-"). The name "MYCIN" actually comes from antibiotics, many of which have the suffix "-mycin".
MYCIN was originally developed by Edward Shortliffe for Stanford Medical School in the early-and mid-1970's. Written in Lisp, a language (a set of languages, actually) geared towards artificial intelligence, MYCIN was one of the pioneering expert systems, and was the first such system implemented for the medical field. The Goal of MYCIN was to compete in an experiment conducted at
Stanford Medical similar to the Turing Test. The case histories of ten patients
with different types of meningitis were submitted to MYCIN as well as to eight human physicians, including a resident, a research fellow, and five faculty specialists in infectious disease. Both MYCIN and the human physicians were given the same information. Both MYCIN's and the human physician's recommendations (as well as a record of the treatment actually received by the patients) were sent to eight non-Stanford specialists, completely unidentified as to which recommendation was MYCIN's and which were authored by the physicians. The outside specialists gave MYCIN the highest score as far as accuracy of diagnosis and effectiveness of treatment.The framework for MYCIN was derived from an earlier expert system called DENDRAL, created to find new chemical comounds in the field of orgainic chemistry (also developed at Stanford).
Developer: Edward Shortliffe (1972) Department of Medicine and Computer Science Heuristic Programming Project Stanford University School of Medicine, California