Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rete Goes GNU

Greetings Programs:

Yepper, you heard (OK, read) that correctly: The Forgenator himself, Dr. Charles L. Forgy is, as of today, releasing the Rete-NT Algorithm as GNU source code to the world.  It is totally free  BUT you cannot make changes to the code and then try to keep your changes proprietary(See the link to the licenses below.)

An article (soon to appear in the on-line version of InfoWorld per my over-worked and under-paid editor) should confirm that Dr. Charles L. Forgy, the original inventor of Rete (pronounced Ree'-tee in our industry regardless of how much Latin you had in high school or college) has released his invention into the wild.  Not just the original Rete but Rete-NT, the latest and greatest!  Yes, you read that right!  Rete-NT is now available for download from PST on the GNU license.  (Go to for a comparison of all of these license.) 

This is basically a R(E)evolution in the BRMS / Rulebase World.  Are you old enough to remember where you were when John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963?  Or where you were when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon in 1969?  Or Gene Cernan last walked on the moon in December of 1972?  (Most folk don’t remember Gene Cernan!)  Actually, there are a few of us still around who remember the news that Pearl Harbor had just been bombed in 1941 or that we had dropped the first (and last) war-time atomic bomb in 1944.

OK - back to the technical side; have you been around long enough to remember the advent of the Rete Algorithm way back in the 1960’s?  Or the coining of the term “AI” at Dartmouth College in 1954?  What about the introduction of Java back in 1996 or 1997?  (It was kind of vague back then.)  No?  Well, try to remember where you were today when you heard that the Rete-NT Algorithm was released as GNU code to the world by Dr. Charles L. Forgy via KBSC.

Why?  Well, I asked him the same question on a Tuesday afternoon at lunch in Dallas at a local Bar-B-Que.  His answer: “It’s about time.”  For now, the Rete-NT algorithm will be released via the GNU license, meaning that you can use it at almost any academic or non-commercial venture AS WELL as for any commercial purposes.  Sounds fair to me. You can also use it commercially but this should be negotiated with PST, Dr. Forgy's company based in Pittsburgh, PA. For downloading and the OPSJ 8 manual and/or code, please contact/email Dr. Forgy at for more information with your name, company/university name and phone number.

Now, for those who cannot remember the history of AI and want everything compressed, I shall try and compress the history into as brief a passage as possible that includes all of the contributions of Dr. Forgy et al made along the way.  Back in August 31, 1955, there was a short (2 month, 10-man) study of AI at Dartmouth College by such notables as John McCarthy (Dartmouth College), Marvin L. Minsky (Harvard University), Nathaniel Rochester (I.B.M. Corporation) and C. E. Shannon (Bell Telephone Labs) to study how computers could be programmed to use languages to manipulate words as human thought processes, neuron networks, abstraction, randomness and creativity and other “original” ideas.  They “coined” the term “Artificial Intelligence” – or “AI”.  Drs. Newell and Simon also introduced their Logic Theorist Program which later became the GPS, General Problem Solver – which were really advanced programs for that period.

Then, in 1958, a stunned USA realized that the USSR was ahead of them in the “space race” and established ARPA, or Advanced Research Projects Agency which became D(Defense) ARPA.  And, yes, ARPA/DARPA was the origin of the internet, NOT VP Al Gore, when they contracted with BBN Technologies to build the first routers in 1969.  DARPA also was highly involved with Stanford, MIT, Boston University and CMU in Rulebased Systems where a young Charles L. Forgy was working on his Ph. D. with Dr. Alan Newell, one of the founders of AI.  During that process, Charles (later, Dr. Charles Forgy) was tasked with optimizing the process of running the rules because it was taking DAYS to run simple rulebase tasks, even using the Symbolics LISP machines. He came up with a method of swapping memory space for optimizing processing time using a network (ergo, "rete" meaning "network") of objects.  You can read about it in his dissertation or many other simpler but not as detailed explanations on the web. (eg, Robert Doorenbos Thesis)

More later as Dr. Forgy makes it available.  Stayed tuned for more earth-shattering news from KBSC as it becomes available.  :)

(c) KBSC 2017


jcmorris said...

Perhaps now Jess will go open-source.

Greg Barton said...

Most excellent! Will request download imminently. :)

Anonymous said...

Where? I don't see a link or git repo.

James Owen said...

You have to contact Dr. Forgy at to get a copy. Send your name, company / school name and phone number along with the request. It's totally free but he likes to know where each copy went. jco

James Owen said...

@Jason: Let me know when Jess goes open-source. Or GNU. Or Apache. Or anything close.

:) jco