Reasoning about Containers:
Research in Physical Reasoning from Radically Incomplete Information


Ernest Davis Department of Computer Science, New York University.
Gary Marcus Department of Psychology, New York University.
Angelica Chen, College of Arts and Sciences, Princeton University.
Casey McGinley, College of Arts and Science, New York University.


  1. Reasoning from Radically Incomplete Information: The Case of Containers, by E. Davis, G. Marcus, and A. Chen. Advances in Cognitive Systems. 2013. DOCX format.
  2. Radically Incomplete Reasoning about Containers: A First-Order Theory, by E. Davis. Supplement to (1)
  3. How Does a Box Work? A Study in the Qualitative Dynamics of Solid Objects. by E. Davis. Artificial Intelligence, 175, 2011, 299-345.
  4. Pouring Liquids: A Study in Commonsense Physical Reasoning by E. Davis. Artificial Intelligence, 172, 2008, 1540-1578.

Natural Deduction Proofs

Several of the inferences discussed in publications (1) and (2) above have been formulated as natural deduction proofs:

SPASS-verified proofs

One of the sample inference has been verified in the SPASS theorem prover, dividing it into separate pieces. The SPASS inputs, pretty printed inputs, and outputs are linked below. This part of the project is collaborative work of A. Chen and E. Davis.