-- LenSchubert - 2011-09-29

Wish list for EPILOG enhancements (in no particular order):

0. Allow arbitrary quoted expressions (possibly containing metavariables)
as terms. [Already done, I think.]

1. Allow "flat" formulas involving predicate arguments; e.g.,
"Mary made John leave" [Mary make leave John]
<=> [Mary (make leave) John]
<=> [Mary ((make leave) John)]
<=> (((make leave) John) Mary)
Here 'make' is a "subj-adding-op", transforming a monadic predicate
into a 2-place predicate (i.e., with an "added" subject). Linguistically,
this is an "object-control verb". Another kind of example where we use
such forms is "John has Mary as neighbor" [John have-as neighbor Mary],
where 'neighbor' is monadic, but we consider (have-as neighbor) as the
inverse of 'neighbor-of', a binary predicate. I.e.,
[John have-as neighbor Mary], or [John (have-as neighbor) Mary]
is equivalent to
[Mary neighbor-of John].

In the following, we also have predicate arguments, but the main verb is
an "obj-adding-op" (linguistically, a subject-control verb):
"John promised Mary to leave", "John seemed smart to Mary",
"John impressed Mary as smart",. We take the LFs to be
[John promise-to Mary leave], [John seem-to Mary smart],
[John impress Mary smart],
or equivalently,
[John (promise-to Mary) leave], or [John ((promise-to Mary) leave)],
or (((promise-to Mary) leave) John), etc.

2. By the same token, allow unflattened formulas (as in the last 2 wffs above);
But perhaps this has unpleasant consequences for retrieval? I guess retrieval
should always be preceded by normalization, which perhaps should always
produce maximally flat forms?

3. Recognize syntactic extensions of atoms as indicating the general
type of the atom; thus, e.g., (with no significance to capitalization),

House.name indicates a term
house.n indicates a (nominal) predicate
house.v indicates a (main verbal) predicate
Me.pro indicates a (pronominal) term
No.det indicates a determiner (quantifier)
No.s indicates a wff (sentence)
out.p indicates a prepositional predicate ("walked out the door")
out.v indicates a verbal predicate
out.prt indicates a particle (though this will normally be attached
to the verb, e.g., "find out" becomes 'find-out.v'
out.a indicates an adjectival predicate ("The doctor is out")
can.aux indicates a predicate modifier ("can play the piano")
fast.a indicates an adjectival predicate
fast.adv indicates a predicate modifier ("runs fast")
perhaps.adv indicates a sentence modifier (should we use 'perhaps.sadv'
since '..adv' also indicates a predicate modifier?)
that.comp indicates a sentence reification operator; but we also use 'that'
that.det indicates a (deictic) determiner (quantifier)
that.pro indicates a (pronominal) term
that.rel indicates a relativizer -- but it won't appear explicitly in LF

These extensions should help produce unambiguous parses of EL formulas,
regardless of whether or not it is in "flattened" form.

4
. It would be good if the wff parser printed informative error diagnostics.

5. It would be nice if adding normalization rules were easy (declarative form)

6
. We need a complete set of equivalences relating quantifiers and *, *, @
E.g., we can move type predications and other atemporal formulas out of
(or into) *
, *, @-environments. (Rules to be supplied by LKS.)

7. We need to allow for use of equality (viz., substitution of equals) in
inference processes; this needs to be done "circumspectly", as it can
generate huge numbers of possible actions. The EPILOG equality specialist
should be used to help, if possible.

8. We need to re-intergrate the specialists into EPILOG 2. The idea of
relying on EPILOG deliberately invoking specialists that it knows
to be relevant to a goal formula was ill-considered. For example,
arithmentic simplification should take place automatically, without
such simplification. Perhaps we need to reintroduce specialist
indicators for appropriate predicates and functions; or perhaps the
indicators can be generated automatically from the code for the specialists
(i.e., we look automatically to see which predicates and functions a
specialist handles, and flag these as indicating the specialist.)

9. Make sure that EL test examples in the epi2 files are ones relevant to
EPILOG 2. E.g., the QQ examples use the substitutional quantification
syntax from EPILOG 1, not EPILOG 2.

10. Enable "reason-giving" in answering yes-no questions. These (to a first
approximation) should be the leaves of the proof graph that delivered
the answer. (The non-leaves will generally be generic pieces of "common
knowledge", thus not needed by the question-asker).

However, we should also be able to give the complete proof or disproof.

11. (This is a biggie.) We need REASON MAINTENANCE in EPILOG, which
provides links from each "believed" wff backward to its parents used
in its derivation, and forward to its children, i.e., direct inferences.
This is essential for belief revision when something we learn is
at odds with something already believed.

Even when we simply want to say "No, scratch that, it's not true",
we need to be able to retract not only the wff at issue, but also
any inferences that may have been generated from it.

I think this will be crucial not only in simple belief retraction,
but in just altering certainties. For example, when we find a new
fact supporting some conclusion that was already somewhat certain,
we want to update the certainty of the conclusion. But this requires
taking account of how it was derived -- certainties require taking
account of the logical and statistical interdependencies among the
formulas used to arrive at them (cf. Bayesian networks).

This will also be crucial in re-evaluating the effects and
certainties and utilities in a plan after making a change to
the plan or executing a step or bringing to bear additional
information (e.g., the user's response to a speech action).
If we have the inference paths that led to our previous
conclusions and estimates, then updating can avoid re-doing
those parts of the inference paths that are not affected.

12. (Another biggie.) We need a systematic forward inference capability,
taking account of salience and inherent interestingness of individuals,
predicates, and formulas, and carrying forward an "inference budget"
in a forward inference chain, such that if we start a chain with a
big bugdet (it's a very salient, interesting starting formula), then
"uninteresting" wffs later in the chain are more likely to be pursued
further than if the initial budget was small. Each step forward costs
a bit of the budget, but interesting wffs derived along the way may
add to the inference budget (perhaps more than they cost).

13. We seem to need "throw" and "catch" mechanisms for building a dialogue
agent based on EPILOG. The idea is that all decisions to act will
be made by the planning executive, but this executive by itself
doesn't come up with any ideas what to do. Rather, it relies on the
inference engine -- which contains the plan in some form such as
( Life-plan = '( ... ))
-- to throw out "suggestions" of what may be appropriate and beneficial
things to do, and what the probable effects and utilities or costs of
various actions and indeed the plan as a whole might be. The planning
executive needs to "catch" these suggestions, and modify the plan
accordingly, either by making trial changes in the plan, or executing
a currently executable intitial step. In other words, EPILOG proposes,
and the planning executive disposes.

As a simple example, when the user inputs "Hi", we store the assertion
that the user said "Hi". (That's a perceptual event, so to speak --
the system "hears" the user's input). This should trigger an inference
rule to the effect that if the user just said X, then the user conveyed
the content of X to the system, where 'content-of' or something like it
is an evaluable function, which essentially parses and interprets what
has been said. (Maybe it provides both a parse tree and an interpretation).
This in turn should feed into forward inference rules that say things
like (in proper EL form) "User greets me with 'Hi", or "User tells me that
...", or "User asks me whether ...", or "User requests that I ...", i.e.,
some surface speech act. This in turn triggers rules that make both factual
inferences in conjunction with other contextual and background knowledge,
and proposals to the effect that a felicitous response may be so-and-so
(more generally, one conveying such-and-such content), so that the
effect will be this-or-that; i.e., a suggestion annotated with its purpose*
or *goal
. These are then among the inferences that EPILOG needs
to "throw", and the planner needs to "catch", presumably based on their
syntactic form. So a simple case might be that EPILOG infers that a
felicitous response may be to say "Hi" back to the user (if the system
hasn't greeted yet, according to the conversations record -- another
one of those parameters in EPILOG, e.g., Discourse-record = '(...)).
It may also suggest asking for the user's name, if it isn't yet known.

The planner promptly places these tentatively at the beginning of the
plan, i.e., in a form something like '(Perhaps [Me do so-and-so])', and
this change to the plan should immediately trigger plan prediction and
evaluation rules ; i.e., EPILOG should work out the (new) consequences
of the modified plan, i.e., the anticipated consequences of actually
doing what the plan now says will perhaps be done. The inferences should
culminate in throwing (a) a change in expected cumulative utility engendered
by doing the action (vs not doing it?!), along perhaps with an estimated
standard deviation in that utility, and (b) suggestions as to what might
be felicitous changes to the plan, such as further additions, or deletions,
or swaps, or promotions/demotions, or expansions of high-level actions
or goals. Again the planner catches these, puts them in its agenda, and
decides whether to "try" these suggestions first, or, if the evaluation
of the "perhaps ..." step was positive, committing to that step (removing
the "perhaps"), and only then taking another idea from the agenda.

It can be seen that apart from the throwing and catching mechanisms,
we also will require reason maintenance (point 11), so that updates to
predictions from tentative steps and to estimated utilities can be
reasonably efficiently carried out, rather than re-starting prediction
and evaluation from scratch.

14. We need documentation! E.g., for the syntax, what atoms require type
declarations so that the parser won't make wrong assumptions? And
more generally, what are the most important facilities, how do you
put in facts and inference rules, how do you ask yes-no or wh-
questions, how do you get extra information about the basis for
inferences, etc.

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Topic revision: r1 - 2011-09-29 - LenSchubert
 
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