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> Hal Vs Aiml
post 16 Jun 2007, 11:55 PM
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It's not easy to summarize the differences between Hal and AIML, but I can try.

1. Hal is a commercial product, marketed by Zabaware, mainly developed by a genius called Robert Medeskza.
AIML is a language, derivative of XML, mainly developed by another genius called Dr. Rich Wallace, and supported by the ALICE AI Foundation (http://www.alicebot.org/aiml.html).

2. As a product, you can use Hal "as is". You just install it and start using it; if you buy also the Haptek extension, you can immediately give your Hal a human 3D interface. The engine is inside Hal.
As a free language, AIML is downloadable without paying anything, but you must have some engine which runs it. Here you have two options:
a) If you want to run your bot locally on the PC, you must use one of several available AIML engines. I have used ProgramD, which is a Java application running on your PC (free download at http://aitools.org/). But it just gives you a text interface (questions and answers); if you want a bot with a graphic interface you must create some software which takes the Programd AIML engine answers and gives them to some TTS (text to speech) software and to a graphic engine (I used Haptek). It can be done ( I did it), but it requires a fair amount of programming in AIML, Java and HTML, if you want to do something serious.
cool.gif If you like to run your chatbot on the Web, you can use the free service Pandorabot (http://www.pandorabots.com/botmaster/en/home), which allows you to set up very easily your bot and even to give him a graphic interface (it uses a 2D Oddcast character which generates the TTS audio flow). You can do it all in a few minutes and you can even customize your HTML page and your AIML set.

3. Hal's knowledge base is partly in its brain (VBScript) and mainly in its tables; it also accesses a huge built-in dictionary/encyclopedia.
AIML has the main ALICE knowledge base, plus several other AIML files, which can be added, including a huge dictionary (but no encyclopedia, as far as I know).

4. You program Hal by writing plugins in VBScript, which manage both the interface and the knowledge base. You program the knowledge base in Alice by creating AIML files (using tags like <srai>). You have to program your interface according to the software you have written.

5. Hal has a native ability to learn. You just talk and he stores informations in its tables. In AIML there is a <learn> tag which can only loads a new AIML file, and a <gossip> tag which allows you to store information said by the user, but there is no native learning function. Dr. Wallace has developed a learning method, but it is available only as an add-on function in Pandorabot hosted bots, and is not available in the standard AIML.

6. Hal has a nice ability to make deductions (if...then) and use them in subsequent answers. I don't know of any similar option in AIML.

7. Both environments have many clever independent developers, but Hal kernel will always be in Zabaware/Medeskza hands, while AIML is completely public.

I can't tell you which solution is better: I just tried to tell you what I know about.

PS: There is also a Hal 5 plugin which emulates an AIML engine. I have never used it. You can find it on the Zabaware plugins area.

Good luck!



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