Analysis of strategic knowledge in back of the envelope reasoning

Praveen K. Paritosh*, Kenneth D Forbus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Back of the envelope (BotE) reasoning involves generating quantitative answers in situations where exact data and models are unavailable and where available data is often incomplete and/or inconsistent. A rough estimate generated quickly is more valuable and useful than a detailed analysis, which might be unnecessary, impractical, or impossible because the situation does not provide enough time, information, or other resources to perform one. Such reasoning is a key component of commonsense reasoning about everyday physical situations. We present an implemented system, BotE-Solver, that can solve about a dozen estimation questions like "What is the annual cost of healthcare in USA?" from different domains using a library of strategies and the Cyc knowledge base. BotE-Solver is a general-purpose problem solving framework that uses strategies represented as suggestions, and keeps track of problem solving progress in an AND/OR tree. A key contribution of this paper is a knowledge level analysis [Newell, 1982] of the strategic knowledge used in BotE reasoning. We present a core collection of seven powerful estimation strategies that provides broad coverage for such problem solving. We hypothesize that this is the complete set of back of the envelope problem solving strategies. We present twofold support for this hypothesis: 1) an empirical analysis of all problems (n=44) on Force and Pressure, Rotation and Mechanics, Heat, and Astronomy from Clifford Swartz's "Back-of-the-Envelope Physics" [Swartz, 2003], and 2) an analysis of strategies used by BotE-Solver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages651-656
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005
Event20th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the 17th Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence Conference, AAAI-05/IAAI-05 - Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Duration: Jul 9 2005Jul 13 2005

Other

Other20th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the 17th Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence Conference, AAAI-05/IAAI-05
CountryUnited States
CityPittsburgh, PA
Period7/9/057/13/05

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Artificial Intelligence

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