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with qualitative analysis

Jian Chen*

Laboratory of Systems Engineering, School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, Peoples Republic of China

Received 1 June 1999; received in revised form 1 June 2000; accepted 1 July 2000

Abstract

Silicon content in pig iron has long been used as one of the most important indices to represent the thermal state of a blast

furnace. In this paper, a predictive system for blast furnaces by integrating a neural network with qualitative analysis is presented.

The qualitative trend of the process in blast furnace is predicted through causal analysis and qualitative reasoning, and the relevant

variables as the inputs of a neural network model are determined. Then, a neural network model is constructed and trained with

appropriate data. Evaluation of the system is made by comparing the predicted values with observed data (totally 610 heats are

included), and the performance of the system is excellent. # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Silicon content; Blast furnace; Qualitative reasoning; Neural networks

1. Introduction

The iron blast furnace is one of the useful tools for

human race. It provides the means by which iron is

rapidly and eciently reduced from ore and virtually it

is the basis for all primary steel making. It is a signicant

item in the economy of any country. Because of the large

quantity produced, even small improvements of the

process can result in considerable prot. Silicon content

in pig iron has long been used as one of the most

important indices to represent the thermal state of the

blast furnace. The control of silicon content in pig iron

at lower level concentration has been regarded as one of

the most important operational problems of a blast

furnace, due to the following reasons: (1) to improve the

quality of product; (2) to meet the need of steelmaking

process; (3) to decrease the running cost, etc.

Nowadays, the iron smelting process in a blast

furnace is mainly controlled by experienced operators.

However, they cannot work forever, and not all

operators can become experts. To improve the control

performance, we need a process model that could

accurately describe stoichiometric and enthalpy balance

for the process and be consistent with the observed

silicon content in the furnace stack. There are several

methods that have been proposed to build the model

(Fielden and Wood, 1968; Jin, 1986; Keyser and Van

Canwenberghe, 1981; Li et al., 1984; Unbehauen and

Diekman, 1982). A blast furnace is a kind of giant

reactor in which gas, liquid and solids coexist, and the

reaction in a blast furnace is very complicated. Its

complexity has prevented it from being controlled

optimally. On the other hand, with the success on

rule-based expert systems in AI, people expect that the

methods of expert operators could be computerized.

Some expert systems (Iida et al., 1989; Nakajima, 1987)

have been built for increasing the operational eective-

ness of a blast furnace. To obtain useful information

from a mathematical model and also from the oper-

ators experience, a predictive system based on combin-

ing an adaptive predictor and a knowledge base has

been developed (Chen, 1993). Generally, knowledge-

based systems have been developed solely through the

use of rule-based programming, which allow for easy

modeling of expert reasoning. However, experience and

analyses showed that there were serious limitations to an

inference method based on empirical associations

between observable ndings and diagnostic hypotheses.

In this paper, a predictive system for blast furnaces by

integrating a neural network with qualitative analysis is

presented, which tries to help push back the bounds on

*Tel.: +86-10-62789896; fax: +86-10-62785876.

E-mail address: jchen@tsinghua.edu.cn (J. Chen).

0952-1976/01/$ - see front matter # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

PII: S 0 9 5 2 - 1 9 7 6 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 6 2 - 2

both quantitative methods and qualitative methods

alone. Moreover, with the strong expressive capability

for incomplete knowledge/information by qualitative

reasoning, it may help to make use of the missing

normative information. The qualitative trend of the

process in blast furnace is predicted through causal

analysis and qualitative reasoning, and the relevant

variables and model structure are determined. Then, a

neural network model is constructed and trained with

appropriate data. Evaluation of the system is made by

comparing the predicted values with observed data, and

the performance of the system is excellent. The paper is

organized as follows. The process of a blast furnace,

neural networks and qualitative reasoning are intro-

duced briey in Sections 2, 3 and 4, respectively. Section

5 describes the structure of the predicting system, which

is followed by the qualitative relationship of a blast

furnace in Section 6. In Section 7, the evaluation of the

system is presented and nally, Section 8 concludes the

paper.

2. The process of a blast furnace

The iron blast furnace is a tall, vertical shaft furnace

that employs carbon, mainly in the form of coke to

reduce iron from its oxide ores. A schematic view of a

typical blast furnace is presented in Fig. 1. Iron ore as

metal source, coke as heat energy source and reductant

are fed to the top of the blast furnace in charges. These

move from the top to the bottom of the furnace in about

67 h and are melted during this period. Hot blast is

blown in from the tuyeres at the furnace bottom so as to

burn coke. The heat will be determined by the blast

system that diuses the furnace from bottom to the top.

In the furnace, iron ore reacts with the gas generated by

the combustion of coke, which promotes iron to reduce

and melt into hot metal.

The principal objective of the blast furnace is to

produce molten iron of constant composition at a high

rate. For a smooth progress of the reaction, various

conditions including in-furnace heat balance, burden

descending, gas permeability and the likes must be

maintained properly. If not, it will lead to reduced hot

metal output, and in extreme cases, a total lack of

output. The critical operating parameters are the

temperature and silicon content of the iron. According

to some reports (Jin, 1986; Liu, 1985), there is an

approximate linear relation between the temperature

and silicon content of pig iron. Furthermore, the silicon

content is a good measure of the heat content and the

course of the blast furnace process (Keyser and Van

Canwenberghe, 1981). Therefore, only silicon content is

chosen as an output variable for the process model in

this paper. The silicon content must be held as low as

possible with restriction that it should not be too low or

too long below the desired value (this is a dangerous

situation in running the blast furnace). The silicon

content in pig iron is uctuating stochastically. This

makes manual control far from easy. The purpose of the

predictive system is to advise the operator whether a

planned action will be favorable or not.

3. Neural networks

Articial neural networks (ANNs) are mathematical

models inspired by the organization and functioning of

biological neurons. ANNs are composed of a number of

very simple processing elements known as neurons. A

neuron typically consists of three components: (1) a

group of weights, (2) a weighted summer, (3) a nonlinear

activation function f (x) (e.g. sigmoidal function). The

weights are regression coecients to be estimated from

sample data. The bias term is comparable with the

intercept of conventional regression model, with the

input signal being always 1 for this term.

The structure of an ANNs model is dened by its

architecture (neurons and their interconnections) and its

activation function. Fig. 2 shows a typical structure of

an ANNs model (multi-layer perceptrons, MLP) with n

inputs, a single hidden layer with three processing units

(neurons) and one output.

In MLP, neurons are arranged in layers. The output

from each neuron in a given layer is connected to the

input of every neuron in the next layer. The size of the

input and output layers is dened by the problem faced,

and the hidden layer can contain an arbitrary number

of neurons. The architecture of the ANNs model

adopted in the predictive system of this paper is an Fig. 1. A schematic view of a typical blast furnace.

J. Chen / Engineering Applications of Articial Intelligence 14 (2001) 7785 78

MLP in three-layer structure and the sigmoid activation

function. Mapping vectors from input space R

n

to the

output space R

m

, an MLP can be expressed as

MLP: R

n

R

m

. The mapping process is a dynamic

process, in which neuron inputs and outputs are

updated sequentially from the input layer to the output

layer. A MLP is trained to represent an unknown

mapping by employing a training set, that is, a collection

of paired input and desired output vectors observed

from a given problem. The purpose in training an MLP

is to determine the values of the weights of the neuron

for the network so that the MLP can closely represent

the unknown mapping. An MLP is often trained by

using an algorithm known as error back propagation

(BP) (Rumelhart et al., 1986) and this combination is

referred as a BP network. BP typed neural network

model has powerful learning ability and simple structure

that are very attractive properties for a wide range of

applications.

Let M be total number of layers of an MLP including

the input (layer 1) and output layers, neu(s; i) denote

the ith neuron in the sth layer, and u

i

denote the input of

the neu(1; i). The operation of neu(s; i) is dened as

follows:

x

s

i

=

n

s1

j=0

w

s1

ij

y

s1

j

(1a)

and

y

s

i

= f (x

s

i

); (1b)

where y

s

i

is the output of the neu(s; i); n

s

is the

total number of neurons in the sth layer, w

s

j;i

is the

weight from neu(s; i) to neu(s 1; j), and f () is a

nonlinear activation function.

With BP algorithm, it performs the input to output

mapping by minimizing the following cost function for

each given pattern pair (U

k

; Y

k

):

E

k

=

1

2

n

M

i=0

(y

i;k

^ y

i;k

)

2

; (2a)

where ^ y; y are the computed output and the real output,

respectively,

E =

N

k=1

E

k

; (2b)

where N is the number of training samples. The amount

of change for connection weight w

s

i; j

at iteration time t

can be determined by the following equation:

Dw

s

ij

(t) = m

@E

@w

s

ij

aDw

s

ij

(t 1); (3)

where m is the learning-rate coecient and a is a

momentum coecient, m; a > 0

@E

@w

s

ij

= d

s

i

y

s1

j

;

d

s

i

=

(y

i

^ y

i

)f

/

(x

s

i

) if s = M;

n

s1

k=1

d

s1

k

w

s

ki

_ _

f

/

(x

s

i

) if 2 _ s _ M 1:

_

The standard BP algorithm, however, frequently causes

the local minima problem and/or very slow learning

owing to the typical handicaps of all steepest descent

approaches. There are many improved learning al-

gorithms that have been proposed, such as using

heuristic rules to nd optimal parameters, adopting

conjugate gradients, Newtons method and quasi-New-

ton techniques, etc. (Chen and Xu, 1998; Ergezinger and

Thomsen, 1995). From Eq. (3), we can nd that the

convergence rate lowers dramatically when the deriva-

tive of the activation function f

/

(x) is close to zero.

Suppose that the activation function f (x) is a sigmoidal

function, that is,

f (x) =

1

1 exp(x)

(4)

and its derivative takes the form

f

/

(x) =

exp(x)

(1 exp(x))

2

= f (x)(1 f (x)): (5)

When f (x) ~ 0 or 1, then, f

/

(x) ~ 0, and the standard

BP algorithm may converge to a local minimum. In this

case, to escape from a local minimum, it is important to

keep f

/

(x) ,= 0. According to the above analysis, we try

to promote f

/

(x)to a special value b at some points, that

is, we dene a new activation function f

1

(x) and its

derivative takes the form

f

/

1

(x) = f

/

(x) b; (6)

where b is a small number and b > 0 (e.g. 0.0050.025).

From Eq. (6), the value of f

/

1

(x) will never be zero. If b

is equal to zero, it is obviously that the improved

algorithm will degenerate to the standard BP algorithm.

If b is small enough, it is believed that the improved

algorithm may have the properties of the standard one.

The training procedure is the same as the standard BP

algorithm. The performance comparison between the

improved algorithm and the standard BP algorithm is

described in Chen and Xu (1998).

In general, there are some shortcomings with ANNs,

such as (1) ANNs models are dicult to interpret; (2)

ANNs contain more parameters to estimate than do

most statistical models, which may result in overtting.

Fig. 2. Illustration of an ANN.

J. Chen / Engineering Applications of Articial Intelligence 14 (2001) 7785 79

To improve the performance of ANNs models, in this

paper, we integrate an ANNs model with qualitative

analysis in a predictive system and expect to increase its

predictive accuracy.

4. Qualitative reasoning

Qualitative reasoning is a relatively new eld studied

originally from AI research and focuses on using

incomplete knowledge. It appears to be an appropriate

or even a necessary approach for complex systems (e.g.,

a blast furnace) where complete numerical information

for problem under study is not available at the time of

analysis. The basic procedure of qualitative reasoning is

to obtain system structure, i.e. components and con-

nections among them that are described by qualitative

equations or by causal constraints, then to solve these

equations or analyze the constraints, and all possible

future behaviors will nally be explored through reason-

ing. They provide greater expressive power for incom-

plete knowledge than quantitative methods. Over two

decades qualitative reasoning has developed and

achieved much both in theory and practice. Three main

techniques of qualitative reasoning have been proposed:

De Kleer and Browns ENVISION (De Kleer and

Brown, 1984), Forbus qualitative process theory (For-

bus, 1984) and Kuipers QSIM (Kuipers, 1986).

Although other interesting approaches have been

proposed, our work is based on Kuipers QSIM method,

in which the relationships between system variables are

represented by equation-like constraints. It allows us to

represent profound knowledge very easily and provides

the tree of all possible behaviors of the system studied.

The structure of a system is described by a set of

parameters linked by constraints. For each instant t, the

qualitative state of a parameter QS( f ; t) is dened by

the pair (qval, qdir), where qval stands for the quali-

tative value and qdir for the direction of change,

therefore the whole system qualitative states is a set of

the qualitative states of all the parameters. In the

simplest case, we can determine qval and qdir as follows:

qval =

if f (t) > 0;

0 if f (t) = 0;

if f (t)50;

_

_

_

qdir =

inc if f

/

(t) > 0;

sdt if f

/

(t) = 0;

dec if f

/

(t)50;

_

_

_

where inc, std and dec represent increasing, steady and

decreasing, respectively, and f

/

(t) denotes the time

derivative of f .

The concept of general qualitative algebra has been

introduced as the theoretical fundamentals. In the

simplest case, we can dene U = (; ; 0; ?) as the

universe of qualitative calculus, which has a lattice

structure with respect to set inclusion.

In this case, however, qualitative reasoning ap-

proaches work well only in a highly abstracted level.

When the size or complexity of the problem increases,

qualitative reasoning usually renders uninteresting

results, i.e. the results are too general to draw any

useful conclusion. In order to solve that, a more rened

qualitative universe should be represented by landmark

set. A landmark point is (1) a critical point that the

objective function or constraint equation reaches, (2)

stage segmentation point that the problem solver are

interested in. With rened landmark points, let us dene

it as a set L = L

j

; j= 1; . . . ; m, we can extend the

denition of qualitative value to

qval =

L

j

if f (t) = L

j

;

(L

j

; L

j1

) if L

j

5f (t)5L

j1

:

_

QSIM has the ability of asserting new landmarks during

simulation [11]. Generally, seven basic types of

constraints are used in QSIM: Add (addition), Minus,

Mult (multiplication), M

; M

tween two parameters), Constant (specifying that a

variable remains so), Deriv (derivation).

In traditional numerical simulation, a set of dier-

ential equations over continuous variables is translated

into a set of dierence equations, each variable is

assigned a real number and behavior of the problem

evolves from one time-step to the next time-step

according to numerical computations. Here, the process

of the problem is described as a set of constraints over

interval valued variables, each variable is assigned an

interval, and because of the ambiguity thus introduced,

the behavior of the problem branches to encompass all

of the possible evolutions of the problem. For the details

of the reasoning algorithm please see Kuipers (1986).

Kuipers (1986) proved that QSIM is complete but not

always correct, that means, QSIM may generate some

false (spurious) behaviors. Some studies have been

done for eliminating such spurious behaviors (Fouche

and Kuipers, 1992; Say, 1998; Wang and Chen, 1995).

5. Structure of the system

With mathematical techniques, we describe dynamic

problems as dierential equations when the problems

are well structured and with precise quantitative

information. Solving the equations is trivial by giving

initial conditions, parameters and the like. Many real

problems, however, are often very complicated and ill-

structured, involving numerous factors, large uncertain-

ties, etc. For a complex problem (e.g., a blast furnace),

information is very likely to be highly qualitative, at

least initially and it virtually involves both qualitative

and quantitative aspects. Most of the time, precise

J. Chen / Engineering Applications of Articial Intelligence 14 (2001) 7785 80

quantitative information is not available or complete

information about the problem under study is not

available at the time of analysis. How do we know which

variable should be selected to model the problem faced?

Why do some ambient conditions omit when we use a

model? There are some problems for traditional

mathematical techniques when complex problems are

encountered.

Reasoning with incomplete qualitative information

typically leads to ambiguous results. An alternative

approach to solve complex problems is to integrate

qualitative and quantitative methods to allow stronger

predictions than using qualitative reasoning or quanti-

tative methods alone (Wang and Chen, 1995). To

improve the predictive accuracy of silicon content

during the operating process of a blast furnace, an

integrated predictive system is developed by the synth-

esis of qualitative reasoning and a neural network. The

system attempts to help push back the bounds on the

quantitative models. Fig. 3 shows the conceptual

structure of the system.

The system includes the following main activities

*

Structuring problem: In this stage, the relationships

among factors are explored, according to the basic

principles of iron smelting process and experience

of expert operators. In many cases, however,

these relationships are qualitative with uncertainty,

e.g., If blast quantity increases smoothly, then

silicon content of pig iron may decrease smoothly.

Some variables are important to the smelting process,

but they can only be described qualitatively, e.g.,

speed of burden moving could be fast,

modest, slow, etc., according to the observation.

Based on the relationships between factors, a

conceptual model (e.g., causal network) is built, then

a qualitative model (equation-like) is obtained

correspondingly.

*

Investigating conditions: With the qualitative

model, possible future behaviors of the process

are reasoned by QSIM, and certain hypotheses (i.e.,

the patterns of the operating process such as the

process is operating in stationary condition and

will run under stationary condition within 3 heats)

are given. Then, the relevant variables are selected

according to the hypotheses, that is, with dif-

ferent running pattern, dierent input variables

are selected. For example, the quantity of blast

V

1

(t), the temperature of blast V

2

(t) and the

quantity of coal powder V

3

(t) will be selected as

input variables when the process is running in

stationary condition. With qualitative analysis, the

interpretability of ANNs model may be improved to

certain extent.

*

Creating an ANNs model: Based on the results of

qualitative model, the inputs for an ANNs model are

determined in the last phase. With these variables, an

ANNs model is constructed with an MLP in three-

layer structure and the sigmoid activation function.

The number of neurons in hidden layer is determined

by following the empirical formula: s =

n(m2)

_

1, where s; n and m are the number of

hidden, input and output units (in our model, m = 1).

The blast furnace is a dynamic system. To adapt to

the change of the process, the sample set will be

updated when new data are available. The number of

samples in the sample set for training the model is 50

and the oldest sample of the sample set will be

eliminated when a new one is available and it will be

added to the sample set. Then, an improved BP

algorithm mentioned in session 3 is used to train the

model. When training error E (dened by Eq. (2b)) is

less than a given value e = 0:005, the training process

stops. The iteration number for training the model is

between 3500 and 5000 depending on how many

variables are selected as inputs.

*

Predicting silicon content of next heat: After the

model is trained, it is used to predict the silicon

content of next heat with proper input data.

*

Evaluating performance: The predictive value will be

compared with the observed one when it is available.

Consequently, according to the comparison, some

renements will be made for both qualitative model

and the ANNs model. For the qualitative model,

some landmarks or hypotheses may be adjusted if the

bias is signicant. And the ANNs model will be

retrained with the new data. With the feedback from

the comparison, the system will be adapted to the

change of the process. Fig. 3. Overview of system structure.

J. Chen / Engineering Applications of Articial Intelligence 14 (2001) 7785 81

With the integration of qualitative analysis and

quantitative methods, we could expect to make full use

of the information/knowledge (both qualitative and

quantitative) and furthermore to improve the predictive

accuracy.

6. Qualitative structure of a blast furnace

In order to reason the behaviors of complex systems

qualitatively, it is necessary to build a qualitative model

for the system. The causal approach is widely used to

model systems qualitatively. Through causality, we can

focus on any part or component of a system, without

having to deal with the model as a whole. This is useful

when trying to understand and explain the behaviors of

a system. The causal inuences (or causal explanations)

between variables are usually represented as an oriented

graph, where nodes in the graph represent variables or

physical parameters, arcs, oriented from an input or a

causal variable to an eect variable, are representative

of the relationship between variables. The silicon

content of the pig iron is inuenced greatly by the

operating situations, which are strongly related with

various conditions including in-furnace heat balance,

burden descending, gas permeability and the likes. In

actual operations, operators of a blast furnace obtain

information relating to the blast furnace conditions

from many sensors. By combining all these pieces of

information (absolute values, relative values, amount of

changes and so on), they judge the type of the blast

furnace conditions at any given time.

After making a thorough investigation and study on a

blast furnace, the qualitative structure of the operating

process in a blast furnace is worked out in the form of a

causal graph. Fig. 4 describes a part qualitative structure

of #9 blast furnace in Anshan Iron and Steel Company

(AISC) that is the largest Iron and Steel Company in

China. According to the causal graph, a qualitative model

is constructed with qualitative equation-like constraints.

The initial landmarks (important values) of each

variable are determined based on the specic parameters

of the blast furnace by discussing with experts.

7. Empirical results

To empirically implement the system described above,

610 heats from #9 blast furnace in AISC are checked.

According to the operating conditions of #9 blast

furnace, the following variables are considered to be

the input variables of the neural network for predicting

silicon content in pig iron:

V

1

(t): the quantity of blast

V

2

(t): the temperature of blast

V

3

(t): the pressure of blast

V

4

(t): the quantity of coal powder

V

5

(t): the index of ventilating performance

V

6

(t): the pressure of top gas

V

7

(t): the temperature of top gas

V

8

(t): the quantity of raw material

V

9

(t): the coke ratio

V

10

(t): the additional quantity of coke

Here, V

1

(t); V

2

(t); V

3

(t); V

4

(t); V

8

(t); V

9

(t) and V

10

(t)

are control variables and V

5

(t); V

6

(t) and V

7

(t) are

state variables. Generally, V

1

(t); V

2

(t) and V

4

(t) are

most frequently used to adjust the operating process,

V

8

(t) is constant for some weeks. However, some

additional quantity of coke V

10

(t) is fed some times if

necessary. In #9 blast furnace of AISC, the time

constant (T) of the iron-smelting process is about 6 h

and 10 heats are produced every day, that is, about

144 min on average for producing a heat. According to

engineering experience (Wang and Fang, 1992), the

sampling period t can be determined as t =

1

6

~

1

10

_ _

T,

that is, the sampling period for #9 blast furnace of AISC

could be 3660 min. Considering the average time

interval between two heats is 144 min, we set the

sampling period t of 48 min. In this case, the interval

between two heats is exactly 3t. Our objective is to

predict the silicon content in pig iron of next heat (heat

t 1) based on the information of heat t, that means we

need predict 3 sampling steps ahead (k = 3), which

could help the operators to run the blast furnace with a

more ecient control strategy. With experiments and

analysis, the time delay indices of inputs are determined

as d

1

= 1; d

2

= 1; d

3

= 1; d

4

= 2; d

5

= 1; d

6

= 3; d

7

=

2; d

8

= 6; d

9

= 6; d

10

= 6. For example, under station-

ary condition, V

1

; V

2

and V

3

are selected as input

variables. Corresponding to y(t), the inputs are

V

1

(t 1); V

2

(t 1) and V

3

(t 1).

Once the qualitative states of the process in

blast furnace are derived through qualitative

analysis, the relevant input variables of the fore-

casting model can be determined, and the model will

be built automatically. With the model, silicon content

in pig iron will be predicted. Fig. 5 shows the

comparison between the predicted values and observed

data.

Input and output data are divided into two sets:

the initial training set which includes 50 samples, and

the test set that includes 610 samples. The initial

training set is used for learning the initial parameters

(weights) of the ANN model. The test set is used to

assess the performance of the system. The model will be

retrained when a new sample from test set is available

and the oldest sample of the training set will be

eliminated at the same time to keep the size of training

set. To evaluate the performance of the prediction,

some important criteria used in practice are considered

J. Chen / Engineering Applications of Articial Intelligence 14 (2001) 7785 82

as follows:

J

1

=

1

610

610

t=1

N

t

_ _

100%;

where

N

t

=

1 where y(t) ^ y(t=t k) [ [50:1

0 else;

_

y(t) is the observed value at time t and ^ y(t=t k) the

predicted value k steps ahead at time t k

J

2

=

1

610

610

t=1

(y(t) ^ y(t=t k))

2

;

J

3

=

1

610

610

t=1

(y(t) y(t=t k))

y(t=t k)

100%:

Generally, we say that the prediction hits the target in

the case [y(t) ^ y(t=t k)[50:1 and the percentage of

hits (J

1

) is the most important criterion for operating a

blast furnace. Table 1 gives the comparison of dierent

methods for predicting silicon content in pig iron.

It is always believed that to predict the tendency of the

process (i.e. the direction of change of the process) is the

most important guide for taking correct actions.

Consider those heats where prediction does not hit the

target with the criterion J

1

, we also counter the

prediction hits the target if the predicting tendency is

consistent with real one, that is, the sign of

(^ y(t=t k) ^ y(t 1=t k 1)) is the same to the sign

of (y(t) y(t 1)). With this criterion, the percentages

of hits for IS and KAP will increase to 93.6 and 89.7%,

respectively. In practice, sometimes the criterion J

1

is

changed as follows to meet higher requirement of

operation:

J

/

1

=

1

610

610

t=1

N

/

t

_ _

100%;

where

N

/

t

=

1 where y(t) ^ y(t=t k) [ [50:075

0 else

_

The percentages of hits for IS and KAP are 81.5 and

68.1%, respectively. From the results of comparison

with other methods, we can nd that the performance of

Fig. 4. Illustration of a part qualitative structure for a blast furnace.

J. Chen / Engineering Applications of Articial Intelligence 14 (2001) 7785 83

Fig. 5. Comparison between the predicted values and observed values.

Table 1

Comparison of dierent methods

Integrating

system (IS)

Combining knowledge-base

with an adaptive predictor

(KAP) (Chen, 1993)

Adaptive predictor

a

(Chen, 1993)

Experienced operator

(Chen, 1993)

J

1

(%) 88.7 81.3 68.9 62.0

J

2

0.0062 0.0082 0.0117 0.0214

J

3

(%) 14.3 16.3 19.3 24.9

a

For the detailed description of the method, please see Keyser and Canwenberghe (1981).

J. Chen / Engineering Applications of Articial Intelligence 14 (2001) 7785 84

the system presented in this paper is much better than

those of others.

8. Conclusion

In this paper, we present a predictive system for blast

furnaces to predict silicon content in pig iron. A blast

furnace is a very complex system, in which gas, liquid

and solids coexist. For a complex system, information is

very likely to be highly qualitative and it involves both

qualitative and quantitative aspects. Unlike traditional

methods, in this paper, we have designed a predictive

system by integrating a neural network with qualitative

analysis and expect to make use of both quantitative and

qualitative information. Six hundred and ten heats of

pig iron are used for verifying the performance of the

system. From the empirical results, it is evident that

excellent performance has been obtained, at least for the

test samples. It is very important that the predictive

system only makes a suggestion to help the operators to

make the right decision, that is, they can use it as a guide

or can ignore it and follow their own intuition. In this

sense, the more accurate the system performs, the more

helpful the system will be. We believe that to synthesize

qualitative reasoning with quantitative methods is a way

for treating complex problems. Further application of

this system to expand areas of operations is highly

expected. To improve the performance of the system

furthermore, we need to acquire more deep knowledge

about the process of blast furnaces, and explore ecient

methods for representing and processing qualitative

knowledge as well. On the other hand, eorts should

also be made toward a closed loop operation of blast

furnace heat control beyond the stage of guidance levels.

Acknowledgements

The author thanks the anonymous referees and the

editor for their valuable comments and suggestions. This

work is supported partly by the National Science

Foundation of China, Natural Science Foundation of

State Education Commission and National Defense

Foundation.

References

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predictor and a knowledge base as applied to a blast furnace.

Journal of Forecasting 12 (2), 93102.

Chen, J., Xu, D., 1998. An improved back propagation algorithm.

In: Gu, J. (Ed.), Proceedings of Systems Science and Systems

Engineering. Scientic and Technical Documents Publishing House,

Beijing, pp. 408411.

De Kleer, J., Brown, J.S., 1984. A qualitative physics based on

conuence. Articial Intelligence 24, 783.

Ergezinger, S., Thomsen, E., 1995. An accelerated learning algorithm

for multilayer perceptrons: optimization layer by layer. IEEE

Transactions on Neural Networks 6, 3141.

Fielden, C.J., Wood, B.I., 1968. A dynamic digital simulation of a

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Forbus, K.D., 1984. Qualitative process theory. Articial Intelligence

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Iida, O. et al., 1989. Blast furnace control by articial intelligence.

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Nakajima, R., 1987. Operation control system of blast furnace by

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Rumelhart, D.E., et al., 1986. Learning internal representations

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Tsinghua University Press, Beijing, p. 37.

Jian Chen received the B.Sc. degree (1983) in Electrical Engineering,

M.Sc. degree (1986), and the Ph.D. degree (1989) both in Systems

Engineering from Tsinghua University, China. He is now a Professor

and Chairman of Management Science Department, Tsinghua

University. He serves as a member of the Administrative Committee

of IEEE systems, man and cybernetics society, a member of the

Standing Committee of Systems Engineering Society of China. He has

over 80 technical publications and has been a principal investigator for

about 20 grants or research contracts. His main research interests

include modeling and control for complex systems, forecast and

optimization techniques.

J. Chen / Engineering Applications of Articial Intelligence 14 (2001) 7785 85

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