The Role of Logic in Knowledge Representation and Commonsense Reasoning

Robert C. Moore

This paper examines the role that formal logic ought to play in representing and reasoning with commonsense knowledge. We take issue with the commonly held view (as expressed by Newell [1980]) that the use of representations based on formal logic is inappropriate in most applications of artificial intelligence. We argue to the contrary that there is an important set of issues, involving incomplete knowledge of a problem situation, that so far have been addressed only by systems based on formal logic and deductive inference, and that, in some sense, probably can be dealt with only by systems based on logic and deduction. We further argue that the experiments of the late 1960s on problem-solving by theorem-proving did not show that the use of logic and deduction in AI systems was necessarily inefficient, but rather that what was needed was better control of the deduction process, combined with more attention to the computational properties of axioms.


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