Diagrammatic (Analogical Visual) Reasoning / References

Nicholas Gessler (gessler@UCLA.EDU)
Tue, 9 Jul 1996 11:05:43 -0700

A little while ago, John McCreery posted a call for papers for a proposed
American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) session entitled
"Reasoning with Diagrammatic Representations II." I'm wondering if anyone
else found this interesting?

What happened to "Reasoning with Diagrammatic Representations I?" I asked
myself. A permutated search through the online library catalogs turned up
this reference and an attractively bound, unread volume whose spine fits
neatly in the left hand ready to be thumped like a bible:

by Janice Glasgow, N. Hari Narayanan and B. Chandrasekaran. AAAI Press /
MIT Press, Menlo Park and Cambridge (1995).

Surely, I thought, if there's a call for papers, there must be a Web Site
for this upcoming Symposium? Not quite yet, but Michael Anderson who is the
organizing chair does maintain an impressive URL well worth perusal:


>From the foreward to the book:

"Research in diagrammatic reasoning has two goals, beyond the fundamental
goal of understanding the phenomena and their processes. The first is to
deepen our understanding of ourselves and the ways in which we think... The
second goal is to provide an essential scientific base for contstructing
representations of diagrammatic information that can be stored and processed
by computers."

Geometry is of course a traditional form of diagrammatic reasoning in our
own culture. The color harmony wheel comes to mind along with sketching for
building projects and sports and military tactics. Like "old wine in new
bottles," recasting the use of spatial imagery in computational terms may
seem to add little to the problems, but this rebottling of an ageing product
(please excuse the metaphor) usually adds some sparkle to the wine, making
it indeed, "new."

I can think of a number of isolated instances of diagrammatic reasoning in
the "others" studied by anthropology, particularly as representations of
cosmologies and analogical systems unifying political, economic and natural
phenomena, but I wonder if the phenomenon has been addressed by our
discipline in a synoptic fashion? What role does this play in "visual

If anyone would care to contribute some references to this field in
anthropology, please send them to me and I will re-post them to the list in
a week or so.


Nicholas Gessler
UCLA Anthropology
Computational Evolution and Ecology Group
Artificial Culture Site: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/anthro/gessler
Phone/FAX 310-559-6661