Hypothesizing Device Mechanisms: Opening Up the Black Box

Unknown author (1988-06-01)

I describe an approach to forming hypotheses about hidden mechanism configurations within devices given external observations and a vocabulary of primitive mechanisms. An implemented causal modelling system called JACK constructs explanations for why a second piece of toast comes out lighter, why the slide in a tire gauge does not slip back inside when the gauge is removed from the tire, and how in a refrigerator a single substance can serve as a heat sink for the interior and a heat source for the exterior. I report the number of hypotheses admitted for each device example, and provide empirical results which isolate the pruning power due to different constraint sources.