ISBN: 9780262349802 | 440 pp. | October 2018

Qualitative Representations

How People Reason and Learn about the Continuous World

In this book, Kenneth Forbus proposes that qualitative representations hold the key to one of the deepest mysteries of cognitive science: how we reason and learn about the continuous phenomena surrounding us. Forbus argues that qualitative representations—symbolic representations that carve continuous phenomena into meaningful units—are central to human cognition. Qualitative representations provide a basis for commonsense reasoning, because they enable practical reasoning with very little data; this makes qualitative representations a useful component of natural language semantics. Qualitative representations also provide a foundation for expert reasoning in science and engineering by making explicit the broad categories of things that might happen and enabling causal models that help guide the application of more quantitative knowledge as needed. Qualitative representations are important for creating more human-like artificial intelligence systems with capabilities for spatial reasoning, vision, question answering, and understanding natural language.

Forbus discusses, among other topics, basic ideas of knowledge representation and reasoning; qualitative process theory; qualitative simulation and reasoning about change; compositional modeling; qualitative spatial reasoning; and learning and conceptual change. His argument is notable both for presenting an approach to qualitative reasoning in which analogical reasoning and learning play crucial roles and for marshaling a wide variety of evidence, including the performance of AI systems. Cognitive scientists will find Forbus’s account of qualitative representations illuminating; AI scientists will value Forbus’s new approach to qualitative representations and the overview he offers.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. I. Introduction and Preliminaries
  3. 1. Introduction
  4. 2. Representation: An Overview
  5. 3. Reasoning: An Overview
  6. 4. Analogy
  7. II. Dynamics
  8. 5. Quantity
  9. 6. Relationships between Quantities
  10. 7. Qualitative Process Theory
  11. 8. Examples Using QP Theory
  12. 9. Causality
  13. 10. Qualitative Simulation and Reasoning about Change
  14. 11. Modeling
  15. 12. Analogy in Dynamics
  16. 13. Dynamics in Language
  17. III. Space
  18. 14. Qualitative Spatial Reasoning: A Theoretical Framework
  19. 15. Qualitative Spatial Calculi
  20. 16. Understanding Sketches and Diagrams
  21. IV. Learning and Reasoning
  22. 17. Learning and Conceptual Change
  23. 18. Commonsense Reasoning
  24. 19. Expert Reasoning
  25. V. Summary and New Directions
  26. 20. Summary
  27. 21. New Directions
  28. Notes
  29. References
  30. Index