The development of the direct-current plasma echelle/CID spectroscopic system for atomic emission spectroscopy (AES) provides new alternatives for automated system control and data analysis. With this system, the concept of the 'intelligent' spectrometer becomes tangible. The echelle/CID system simultaneously gathers a wealth of spectral information over a wide spectral region. The mechanical stability of the system and the absence of moving parts give rise to reproducible wavelength assignment. The large amount of spectral information acquired has led to the development of information-based expert systems for AES: automated qualitative analysis, semi-quantitative analysis, and an 'on the fly' matrix-dependent line selection. These algorithms are effective in situations where there is a large variability among samples. The analytical power of these routines is heavily dependent on their utilization of the large database and the use of fundamental spectroscopic principles. Examples of the use of these algorithms in environmental monitoring, in the identification of chemical waste, in the analysis of geologic materials and steels, and in HPLC-AES are presented.
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