Ernest Davis, Department of Computer Science, New York University
I am working with
Gary Marcus of the Psychology Department on
commonsense physical reasoning about containers in human cognition and in
automated reasoning. The web page for the project is
(Ernest Davis is sole author, except where otherwise indicated.)
Reasoning from Radically Incomplete Information: The Case of
Containers, by Ernest Davis, Gary Marcus, and Angelica Chen.
Advances in Cognitive Systems.
Radically Incomplete Reasoning about
Containers: A First-Order Theory, Supplement to (1)
How Does a Box Work? A Study in the Qualitative Dynamics of Solid Objects.
Artificial Intelligence, 175, 2011,
Pouring Liquids: A Study in Commonsense Physical Reasoning
. Artificial Intelligence, 172, 2008,
Ontology of Matter
Developing ontologies of matter for
reasoning about simple physics and
chemistry experiments, such as the one depicted here, from Michael Faraday's
The Chemical History of a Candle,
in which hydrogen is produced by passing
over heated iron filings. Understanding such experiments involves combining
formal scientific knowledge, such as the chemical equations; commonsensical
physical and spatial knowledge, such as the knowledge that the gas will be
trapped in the inverted test tube; and knowledge of the perceptual and
manipulative powers of the experimenters, such as knowing they can see the
water level lowering in the test tube, though they cannot see the hydrogen
gas directly. A particular focus of my work is on the use of
partial knowledge of the geometry involved; for instance, the exact shape of
the test tube is not critical, but it is critical that it does not have a
hole at the top.
Gary Marcus and I have also written two papers studying the limits of simulation
as a technique in commonsense physical reasoning: one analyzing the issue
in AI systems, the other analyzing it in cognitive models.
Qualitative Spatial Reasoning
Developing languages for expressing qualitative spatial knowledge and
analyzing the expressive power of those languages. Developing algorithms
for qualitative spatial reasoning. Studying the problems of spatial
reasoning that arise in applications.
The Expressive Power of First-Order Topological Languages.
Journal of Logic and Computation, Vol. 23, No. 5, 2013, 1107-1141.
A Qualitative Calculus for Three-Dimensional Rotations
by Azam Asl and Ernest Davis. Spatial Cognition
and Computation, 14:1, 2014, 18-57.
Qualitative Spatial Reasoning in Interpreting Text and Narrative.
Spatial Cognition and Computation, 13:4, 2013, 264-294.
John Bateman's response to me.
My response to Bateman.
Elementarily Equivalent Structures for Topological Languages
over Regions in Euclidean Space.
Journal of Logic and Computation, Vol. 23, No. 3, 2013, 457-471.
Preserving Geometric Properties in Reconstructing
Regions from Internal and Nearby Points.
Computational Geometry: Theory and Application, 45:5-6, 2012, 234-253.
Link to journal article (Science Direct).
Qualitative Reasoning and Spatio-Temporal Continuity.
This chapter appears in
Qualitative Spatio-Temporal Representation and Reasoning:
Trends and Future Directions
edited by S. Hazarika, copyright 2012, IGI Global.
Commonsense Reasoning and Text Comprehension
What kinds of commonsense knowledge are involved in comprehending natural
In collaboration with Hector Levesque and Leora Morgenstern,
I have assembled a
collection of Winograd schemas.
Commonsense Reasoning and Probability Theory
Analysis of various issues that arise in using probability theory for
commonsense reasoning and for cognitive models.
- Bounding changes in probability
over time: It is unlikely that you will change your mind very much very
often. Unpublished, November 10, 2013.
The Relevance of Proofs of the Rationality of Probability Theory to
Automated Reasoning and Cognitive Models. Unpublished.
How Robust are Probabilistic Models of Higher-Level Cognition?
by Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis.
Psychological Science, Vol. 24, no. 12, 2013, 2351-2360.
Paper in Word
Supplement in Word
The Hypothesis Space in Gweon, Tenenbaum, and Schulz
Still searching for Principles: A Response to Goodman et al. (2015)
Psychological Science, April 2015, Vol. 26 pp. 542-544.
Version in Word.
[A response to
Relevant and Robust: A Response to Marcus and Davis (2013) by
Noah Goodman et al.]