An Expert System is a problem solving and decision making system with 'built-in' expertise. It can be used by a non-expert in a particular subject area to help them evaluate and make a decision.
The expert system contains two basic components: a knowledge base and an inference engine. The user answers a series of questions and the expert system applies the rules to determine the most probably soloution.
Expert systems are very good at producing decisions in very specific, well defined 'domains' or problem spaces. For example, an expert system may be developed to help designers design a boat - it has many rules built in to check on the design. But of course it would be no good asking it if the boat can win the American Cup! Expert systems are useful tools, but they are nowhere near as versatile as a person.
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