During the last decade, information technologies have become broadly and deeply integrated with the ways in which we all work. In large part, this is due to the phenomenal distribution of personal computers, but the evolution of the software that makes computers do useful work has also played an important role. One recalls the early 1970s when database management system (DBMS) software, for example, was considered exotic and unreliable, whereas it is now regarded as stable and mundane. During this symposium, we heard about other information technologies that, at first, seem exotic: neural networks, hypermedia, expert systems, and object-oriented databases. This paper will examine these technologies and provide some examples of how they are being applied to the problems that users of materials data are working to solve.
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