Thursday, June 17, 2010

Facts and Rules

My work to improve the dictionaries of TexLexAn, in fact its knowledge base brings me to a very basic question: What is knowledge?

We can distinguish two kind of knowledge:

The procedural knowledge or the rules to do things.
The declarative knowledge or the facts.

In the computer world, the procedural knowledge is represented by the rules-based system experts such as the online diagnosis programs, and the declarative knowledge is foundation of the databases such as the phone directory for the simplest form.

Today, the both forms of knowledge are managed by two completely different kinds of programs but our brain does not work like that! It looks evident that facts and rules are intimately mixed. There is a good reason for it; we construct our rules from ours observations (the facts). These rules can very dependent of the observations but we try generalize these rules. We call it an inductive reasoning.

We can imagine this funny thing:  In the middle of October while we are reading under an apple tree, we receive an apple on our head, so we decide to move under another tree, in fact a pear tree. Pears are not apples but we are cautious because we infer that if one apple fell down there is a chance that a pear can fall down too.  Can a program do the same hypothesis?

to be continued...

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