Commonsense reasoning about containers using radically incomplete information

Ernest Davis, Gary Marcus, Noah Frazier-Logue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In physical reasoning, humans are often able to carry out useful reasoning based on radically incomplete information. One physical domain that is ubiquitous both in everyday interactions and in many kinds of scientific applications, where reasoning from incomplete information is very common, is the interaction of containers and their contents. We have developed a preliminary knowledge base for qualitative reasoning about containers, expressed in a sorted first-order language of time, geometry, objects, histories, and actions. We have demonstrated that the knowledge suffices to justify a number of commonsense physical inferences, based on very incomplete knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-84
Number of pages39
JournalArtificial Intelligence
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Commonsense reasoning
  • Containers
  • Physical reasoning
  • Spatial reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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