Qualitative Spatial Interpretation of Course-of-Action Diagrams

Ronald W. Ferguson, Northwestern University; Robert A. Rasch, Jr., Battle Command Battle Lab (BCBL); William Turmel and Kenneth D. Forbus, Northwestern University

This paper demonstrates qualitative spatial reasoning techniques in a real-world diagrammatic reasoning task: Course-of-Action (COA) diagrams. COA diagrams are military planning diagrams that depict units’ movements and tasks within a given region. COA diagrams provide a useful test bed for diagram understanding because they have large, composable symbology used across many types of military planning. Using a qualitative spatial reasoning engine, GeoRep, we built two reasoning systems for COA diagrams. The first system was a prototype showing the viability of using GeoRep to interpret individual COA glyphs. The second system, which built upon the techniques of the first, allowed diagram glyphs to be identified by a knowledge-based reasoner, and then provided a geographic interpretation of relationships between those glyphs. This system was evaluated as a geographic knowledge server in a recent DARPA initiative, during which it answered dozens of geographic queries about many different COA diagrams.

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