Studies in knowledge representation : modeling change - the frame problem : pictures and words

Abstract: In two studies, the author attempts to develop a general symbol theoretical approach to knowledge representation.The first study, Modeling change -the frame problem, critically examines the - so far unsuccessful - attempts to solve the notorious frame problem. By discussing and analyzing a number of related problems - the prediction problem, the revision problem, the qualification problem, and the book-keeping problem - the frame problem is distinguished as the problem of finding a representational form permitting a changing, complex world to be efficiently and adequately represented. This form, it is argued, is dictated by the metaphysics of the problem world, the fundamental form of the symbol system we humans use in rightly characterizing the world.In the second study, Pictures and words, the symbol theoretical approach is made more explicit. The subject Is the distinction between pictorial (non-linguistic, non-propositional, analogical, "direct") representation and verbal (linguistic, propositional) representation, and the further implications of this distinction. The study focuses on pictorial representation, which has received little attention compared to verbal representation. Observations, ideas, and theories in AI, cognitive psychology, and philosophy are critically examined. The general conclusion is that there is as yet no cogent and mature theory of pictorial representation that gives good support to computer applications. The philosophical symbol theory of Nelson Goodman is found to be the most thoroughly developed and most congenial with the aims and methods of AI. Goodman's theory of pictorial representation, however, in effect excludes computers from the use of pictures. In the final chapter, an attempt is made to develop Goodman's analysis of pictures further turning it into a theory useful to AI. The theory outlined builds on Goodman's concept of exemplification. The key idea is that a picture is a model of a description that has the depicted object as its standard model. One consequence Is that pictorial and verbal forms of representation are seen less as competing alternatives than as complementary forms of representation mutually supporting and depending on each other.