How Is a Knowledge Representation System Like a Piano?

Unknown author (1978-11)

The research reported here was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant No. 1 P41 RR 01096-02 from the Division of Research Resources, and was conducted at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Working Paper

In the summer of 1978 a decision was made to devote a special issue of the SIGART newsletter to the subject of knowledge representation research. To assist in ascertaining the current state of people's thinking on this topic, the editors (Ron Brachman and myself) decided to circulate an informal questionnaire among the representation community. What was originally planned as a simple list of questions eventually developed into the current document, and we have decided to issue it as a report on its own merits. The questionnaire is offered here as a potential aid both for understanding knowledge representation research, and for analysing the philosophical foundations on which that research is based. The questionnaire consists of two parts. Part I focuses first on specific details, but moves gradually towards more abstract and theoretical questions regarding assumptions about what knowledge representation is; about the role played by the computational metaphor about the relationships among model, theory, and program; etc. In part II, in a more speculative vein, we set forth for consideration nine hypothesis about various open issues in representation research.