Transition Space

Unknown author (1990-11-01)

Informal causal descriptions of physical systems abound in sources such as encyclopedias, reports and user's manuals. Yet these descriptions remain largely opaque to computer processing. This paper proposes a representational framework in which such descriptions are viewed as providing partial specifications of paths in a space of possible transitions, or transition space. In this framework, the task of comprehending informal causal descriptions emerges as one of completing the specifications of paths in transition space---filling causal gaps and relating accounts of activity varied by analogy and abstraction. The use of the representation and its operations is illustrated in the context of a simple description concerning rocket propulsion.