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The design and implementation of a computer-based information system for research and for outlook and situation processsing within the Economics Statistics, and Cooperatives Service uncovered many critical areas: user orientation, data management, analytical capability, and clarity of output. Many computer-related design criteria were considered, such as free-format vocabulary, extendability, linkage to different data and program storage devices, and error detection-correction capabilities. Data storage and manipulation techniques were emphasized since these form a vital part of the outlook and situation process. The resulting system is one in which the casual or novice user can communicate a problem to the computer in a natural manner with little knowledge about programming or internal workings of the computer.


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