"Broadly speaking, qualitative-reasoning research aims to develop representation and reasoning techniques that will enable a program to reason about the behavior of physical systems, without the kind of precise quantitative information needed by conventional analysis techniques such as numerical simulators. ... Observing pouring rain and a river's steadily rising water level is sufficient to make a prudent person take measures against possible flooding - without knowing the exact water level, the rate of change, or the time the river might flood."
– Yumi Iwasaki. IEEE Expert: Intelligent Systems (May/June 1997).
Qualitative reasoning involves expressing and deriving knowledge based on qualitative terms such as natural language expressions, rather than strict mathematical quantities. Well over 40 qualitative calculi have been proposed so far, mostly in the spatial and temporal domains, with several practical applications such as naval traffic monitoring, warehouse process optimisation and robot manipulation. Even if a number of specialised qualitative reasoning tools have been developed so far, an important barrier to the wider adoption of these tools is that only qualitative reasoning is supported natively, when real-world problems most often require a combination of qualitative and other forms of reasoning. In this work, we propose to overcome this barrier by using ASP as a unifying formalism to tackle problems that require qualitative reasoning in addition to non-qualitative reasoning. A family of ASP encodings is proposed which can handle any qualitative calculus with binary relations. These encodings are experimentally evaluated using a real-world dataset based on a case study of determining optimal coverage of telecommunication antennas, and compared with the performance of two well-known dedicated reasoners. Experimental results show that the proposed encodings outperform one of the two reasoners, but fall behind the other, an acceptable trade-off given the added benefits of handling any type of reasoning as well as the interpretability of logic programs. This paper is under consideration for acceptance in TPLP.
To apply eyeshadow without a brush, should I use a cotton swab or a toothpick? Questions requiring this kind of physical commonsense pose a challenge to today's natural language understanding systems. While recent pretrained models (such as BERT) have made progress on question answering over more abstract domains - such as news articles and encyclopedia entries, where text is plentiful - in more physical domains, text is inherently limited due to reporting bias. Can AI systems learn to reliably answer physical common-sense questions without experiencing the physical world? In this paper, we introduce the task of physical commonsense reasoning and a corresponding benchmark dataset Physical Interaction: Question Answering or PIQA. Though humans find the dataset easy (95% accuracy), large pretrained models struggle (77%). We provide analysis about the dimensions of knowledge that existing models lack, which offers significant opportunities for future research.
The ability to persist in the spacial environment is, not only in the robotic context, an essential feature. Positional knowledge is one of the most important aspects of space and a number of methods to represent these information have been developed in the in the research area of spatial cognition. The basic qualitative spatial representation and reasoning techniques are presented in this thesis and several calculi are briefly reviewed. Features and applications of qualitative calculi are summarized. A new calculus for representing and reasoning about qualitative spatial orientation and distances is being designed. It supports an arbitrary level of granularity over ternary relations of points. Ways of improving the complexity of the composition are shown and an implementation of the calculus demonstrates its capabilities. Existing qualitative spatial calculi of positional information are compared to the new approach and possibilities for future research are outlined.
In this thesis, we introduce a novel formal framework to represent and reason about qualitative direction and distance relations between extended objects using Answer Set Programming (ASP). We take Cardinal Directional Calculus (CDC) as a starting point and extend CDC with new sorts of constraints which involve defaults, preferences and negation. We call this extended version as nCDC. Then we further extend nCDC by augmenting qualitative distance relation and name this extension as nCDC+. For CDC, nCDC, nCDC+, we introduce an ASP-based general framework to solve consistency checking problems, address composition and inversion of qualitative spatial relations, infer unknown or missing relations between objects, and find a suitable configuration of objects which fulfills a given inquiry.
We introduce WIQA, the first large-scale dataset of "What if..." questions over procedural text. WIQA contains three parts: a collection of paragraphs each describing a process, e.g., beach erosion; a set of crowdsourced influence graphs for each paragraph, describing how one change a ffects another; and a large (40k) collection of "What if...?" multiple-choice questions derived from the graphs. For example, given a paragraph about beach erosion, would stormy weather result in more or less erosion (or have no e ff ect)? The task is to answer the questions, given their associated paragraph. WIQA contains three kinds of questions: perturbations to steps mentioned in the paragraph; external (out-of-paragraph) perturbations requiring commonsense knowledge; and irrelevant (no e ff ect) perturbations. We find that state-of-the-art models achieve 73.8% accuracy, well below the human performance of 96.3%. We analyze the challenges, in particular tracking chains of influences, and present the dataset as an open challenge to the community.
We introduce the first open-domain dataset, called QuaRTz, for reasoning about textual qualitative relationships. QuaRTz contains general qualitative statements, e.g., "A sunscreen with a higher SPF protects the skin longer.", twinned with 3864 crowdsourced situated questions, e.g., "Billy is wearing sunscreen with a lower SPF than Lucy. Who will be best protected from the sun?", plus annotations of the properties being compared. Unlike previous datasets, the general knowledge is textual and not tied to a fixed set of relationships, and tests a system's ability to comprehend and apply textual qualitative knowledge in a novel setting. We find state-of-the-art results are substantially (20%) below human performance, presenting an open challenge to the NLP community.
Cognitive scientists of the embodied cognition tradition have been providing evidence that a large part of our creative reasoning and problemsolving processes are carried out by means of conceptual metaphor and blending, grounded on our bodily experience with the world. In this talk I shall aim at fleshing out a mathematical model that has been proposed in the last decades for expressing and exploring conceptual metaphor and blending with greater precision than has previously been done. In particular, I shall focus on the notion of aptness of a metaphor or blend and on the validity of metaphorical entailment. Towards this end, I shall use a generalisation of the category-theoretic notion of colimit for modelling conceptual metaphor and blending in combination with the idea of reasoning at a distance as modelled in the Barwise-Seligman theory of information flow. I shall illustrate the adequacy of the proposed model with an example of creative reasoning about space and time for solving a classical brainteaser. Furthermore, I shall argue for the potential applicability of such mathematical model for ontology engineering, computational creativity, and problem-solving in general.
The capability of making explainable inferences regarding physical processes has long been desired. One fundamental physical process is object motion. Inferring what causes the motion of a group of objects can even be a challenging task for experts, e.g., in forensics science. Most of the work in the literature relies on physics simulation to draw such infer- ences. The simulation requires a precise model of the under- lying domain to work well and is essentially a black-box from which one can hardly obtain any useful explanation. By contrast, qualitative reasoning methods have the advan- tage in making transparent inferences with ambiguous infor- mation, which makes it suitable for this task. However, there has been no suitable qualitative theory proposed for object motion in three-dimensional space. In this paper, we take this challenge and develop a qualitative theory for the motion of rigid objects. Based on this theory, we develop a reasoning method to solve a very interesting problem: Assuming there are several objects that were initially at rest and now have started to move. We want to infer what action causes the movement of these objects.
It was motivated by two observations regarding modeling in general and work in qualitative physics in particular. First, all modelbased reasoning is only as good as the model used (Davis and Hamscher 1988). Second, no single model is adequate or appropriate for a wide range of tasks (Weld 1989). A model of a real-world system is but an abstraction of some aspects of the system. To formulate a model of a physical system for a given task, we inevitably take certain perspectives of the system to capture proper scenarios by deciding what to describe and what to ignore (Hobbs 1985).
IAAI is the premier venue for learning about AI's impact through deployed applications and emerging AI technologies. Case studies of deployed applications with measurable benefits arising from the use of AI technology provide clear evidence of the impact and value of AI technology to today's world. The emerging applications track features technologies that are rapidly maturing to the point of application. The seven articles selected for this special issue are extended versions of the papers that appeared at the conference. Four of the articles describe deployed applications that are already in use in the field.