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This paper discusses the architecture of a metasystem, which can be used to generate intelligent information systems for different domains of discourse. It points out the kinds of knowledge accepted by the system, and the way the knowledge is used to do nontrivial problem solving. The organization of the system makes it possible for it to function in the context of a large and expanding data base. The metasystem provides a basis for the definition of the concept of machine understanding in terms of the models that the machine can build in a domain, and the way it can use the models.