- I’m currently auditing a fascinating seminar at Berkeley on Semiotics and Information Theory. Mostly we are focusing on C.S. Peirce although we’ve also explored other theories such as Shannon’s Information Theory. As we were discussing abduction, the history of the idea, how it compares with induction and deduction, etc. someone asked me about the uses of Abduction in AI and computer science.
Just off hand, here’s a batch of blog and wiki links relating to “Abductive Intelligence”.
My first encounters with abductive reasoning in computational contexts go back to mentions of Peirce by Warren S. McCulloch and early implementations by Pople, et al. Here’s a few notes on those.
- Warren S. McCulloch, “What Is a Number, that a Man May Know It, and a Man, that He May Know a Number?”
- Abduction, Deduction, Induction, Analogy, Inquiry : 15
- Abduction, Deduction, Induction, Analogy, Inquiry : 23
All through 1995 I worked on a graduate project in systems engineering at Oakland University developing my ideas about Inquiry Driven Systems. I wrote a project report on Peirce’s treatments of analogy and inquiry that included a discussion of the logical inferences involved in the abductive and deductive steps. There’s a copy of that at the following location: Functional Logic • Inquiry and Analogy
- Interestingly, this topic [abductive inference] overlaps with planning.
Exactly. Resolving a surprise through an explanation and solving a problem through a plan of action are dual species of inquiry in general.
This is one of the themes at the top of my work on Inquiry Driven Systems. See, for example, the statement of research interests I submitted with my application to grad school back in the early 90s.
This inquiry is guided by two questions that express themselves in many different guises. In their most laconic and provocative style, self-referent but not purely so, they typically bring a person to ask:
- Why am I asking this question?
- How will I answer this question?
Cast in with a pool of other questions these two often act as efficient catalysts of the inquiry process, precipitating and organizing what results. Expanded into general terms these queries become tantamount to asking:
- What accumulated funds and immediate series of experiences lead up to the moment of surprise that causes the asking of a question?
- What operational resources and planned sequences of actions lead on to the moment of solution that allows the ending of a problem?
Phrased in systematic terms, they ask yet again:
- What capacity enables a system to exist in states of question?
- What competence enables a system to exit from its problem states?