Commonsense Reasoning - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780123693884, 9780080476612

Commonsense Reasoning

1st Edition

Authors: Erik T. Mueller
eBook ISBN: 9780080476612
Hardcover ISBN: 9780123693884
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 19th January 2006
Page Count: 432
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To endow computers with common sense is one of the major long-term goals of Artificial Intelligence research. One approach to this problem is to formalize commonsense reasoning using mathematical logic. Commonsense Reasoning is a detailed, high-level reference on logic-based commonsense reasoning. It uses the event calculus, a highly powerful and usable tool for commonsense reasoning, which Erik T. Mueller demonstrates as the most effective tool for the broadest range of applications. He provides an up-to-date work promoting the use of the event calculus for commonsense reasoning, and bringing into one place information scattered across many books and papers. Mueller shares the knowledge gained in using the event calculus and extends the literature with detailed event calculus solutions to problems that span many areas of the commonsense world.

Key Features

  • Covers key areas of commonsense reasoning including action, change, defaults, space, and mental states.
  • The first full book on commonsense reasoning to use the event calculus.
  • Contextualizes the event calculus within the framework of commonsense reasoning, introducing the event calculus as the best method overall.
  • Focuses on how to use the event calculus formalism to perform commonsense reasoning, while existing papers and books examine the formalisms themselves.
  • Includes fully worked out proofs and circumscriptions for every example.


Graduate students or advanced undergraduates taking a course on commonsense reasoning or knowledge representation, or looking for tools to use for their thesis work.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 What is Commonsense Reasoning?
1.2 Key Issues of Commonsense Reasoning
1.3 Brief History of Commonsense Reasoning
1.4 The Event Calculus

Part I: Foundations

Chapter 2: The Event Calculus
2.1 First-Order Logic
2.2 Event Calculus Basics
2.3 Event Calculus Axiomatizations
2.4 Reification
2.5 Conditions
2.6 Circumscription
2.7 Domain Descriptions
2.8 Reasoning Types

Part II: Commonsense Phenomena

Chapter 3: The Effects of Events
3.1 Positive and Negative Effect Axioms
3.2 Effect Axiom Idioms
3.3 Preconditions
3.4 State Constraints

Chapter 4: The Triggering of Events
4.1 Trigger Axioms
4.2 Preventing Repeated Triggering
4.3 Triggered Fluents

Chapter 5: The Commonsense Law of Inertia
5.1 Representation of the Commonsense Law of Inertia
5.2 Representing Release from the Commonsense Law of Inertia
5.3 Release Axioms

Chapter 6: Indirect Effects of Events
6.1 Effect Axioms
6.2 Primitive and Derived Fluents
6.3 Release Axioms and State Constraints
6.4 Effect Constraints
6.5 Causal Constraints
6.6 Trigger Axioms

Chapter 7: Continuous Change
7.1 Trajectory Axioms
7.2 AntiTrajectory Axioms
7.3 Using AntiTrajectory Instead of Releases

Chapter 8: Concurrent Events
8.1 Restricting Concurrency
8.2 Cumulative and Canceling Effects

Chapter 9: Nondeterministic Effects of Events
9.1 Determining Fluents
9.2 Disjunctive Event Axioms

Part III: Commonsense Domains

Chapter 10: Space
10.1 Relational Space
10.2 Metric Space
10.3 Object Identity

Chapter 11: The Mental States of Agents
11.1 Beliefs, Goals, and Plans
11.2 Emotions

Part IV: Default Reasoning

Chapter 12: Default Reasoning
12.1 Atemporal Default Reasoning
12.2 Temporal Default Reasoning
12.3 Default Reasoning Method
12.4 Defaults and the Qualification Problem
12.5 Default Events and Properties

Part V: Programs and Applications

Chapter 13: The Discrete Event Calculus Reasoner
13.1 Discrete Event Calculus Reasoner Architecture
13.2 Encoding SAT Problems
13.3 Simple Examples
13.4 Example: Telephone
13.5 Discrete Event Calculus Reasoner Language

Chapter 14: Applications
14.1 Business Systems
14.2 Natural Language Understanding
14.3 Vision

Part VI: Logical and Nonlogical Methods

Chapter 15: Logics for Commonsense Reasoning
15.1 Situation Calculus
15.2 Features and Fluents
15.3 Action Languages
15.4 Fluent Calculus
15.5 Discussion and Summary

Chapter 16: Nonlogical Methods for Commonsense Reasoning
16.1 Qualitative Reasoning
16.2 Analogical Processing
16.3 Probabilistic Reasoning
16.4 Society of Mind

Part VII: Conclusion
Chapter 17: Conclusion

Part VIII: Appendices
Appendix A: Logical Foundations
Appendix B: Equivalence of EC and DEC
Appendix C: Events with Duration
Appendix D: Answers to Selected Exercises


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© Morgan Kaufmann 2006
Morgan Kaufmann
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About the Author

Erik T. Mueller

Affiliations and Expertise

IBM Watson Group and IBM Research, New York, USA


“A comprehensive exposition of reasoning about actions and change using the circumscription-based Event Calculus. The book has an excellent up-to-date bibliography on actions and change.” -Chitta Baral, Arizona State University “Central to the idea of Artificial Intelligence is getting computers to understand simple facts about people and everyday life—what we call Common Sense. Amid the technical discussions about inference algorithms and knowledge representation, a larger question arises: What have we actually learned in the past 30 years about how to put Commonsense knowledge in computers? Look no further than Erik Mueller's Commonsense Reasoning for a deep and insightful survey of the state of the art in this topic. Some say that Commonsense defies logic; here Mueller shows that logic, at least, can put up a good fight.” -Henry Lieberman, MIT Media Laboratory “Erik Mueller has given the most thorough treatment of common sense knowledge and reasoning yet to appear.” -John McCarthy, Stanford University “The strength of this book is that it uses a uniform representation formalism, the event calculus, to solve a variety of commonsense reasoning problems. Researchers will find the book an inspiring tool which provides many ideas for applications of action formalisms. Thanks to both the exemplary presentation style and numerous examples, the book is also well-suited for teachers and students alike.” -Michael Thielscher, Dresden University of Technology “Developing systems that can perform actions and deal with change is a major challenge in intelligent system design, because it requires the construction of sophisticated models for knowledge representation and reasoning. This book provides important ideas and methods which can be used to model commonsense reasoning about events in complex and dynamic environments. The content is well thought out, and difficult topics are presented in highly accessible ways. The author tells a compelling story that highlights the utility of event calculus for applications that require commonsense models of action and change.” -Mary-Anne Williams, University of Technology, Sydney, and Knowledge Representation and Reasoning Inc. People with better commonsense than others are better observers of context and have more patterns that are more readily accessible. Nevertheless, commonsense reasoning is an important area of study. Mueller's book will be valuable to those involved in this field.- Robert W. Ferguson, Software Quality Professional 12/06-2/07