Not Exactly: In Praise of Vagueness

Not Exactly: In Praise of Vagueness

by Kees van Deemter
     
 

How warm is a 'warm day'?

Where should we draw the 'poverty line'?

Are you the same person as you were yesterday?

None of these questions can be given a clear-cut answer. Any response is likely to start with 'That depends ?'. We operate in a world full of continuous variation, of fuzziness and borderline cases, using language that is intrinsically vague. In

See more details below

Overview

How warm is a 'warm day'?

Where should we draw the 'poverty line'?

Are you the same person as you were yesterday?

None of these questions can be given a clear-cut answer. Any response is likely to start with 'That depends ?'. We operate in a world full of continuous variation, of fuzziness and borderline cases, using language that is intrinsically vague. In this fascinating exploration, cutting across philosophy, mathematical logic, linguistics, and artificial intelligence, Kees van Deemter considers the challenges and applications of vagueness, showing how vagueness is not only characteristically human, but frequently useful too.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199545902
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
03/01/2010
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Kees van Deemter is Reader in Computing Science at the University of Aberdeen.

Table of Contents

List of Figures xv

Prologue 1

1 Introduction: False Clarity 4

Vagueness 8

Paradox 10

Academic perspectives on vagueness 13

Part I Vagueness, Where One Least Expects It

2 Sex and Similarity: On the Fiction of Species 19

What is a species? 20

The Ensatina salamander 22

Lessons learned 27

3 Measurements that Matter 31

A short history of the metre 32

Obesity 36

Poverty 40

Intelligence 44

Dialogue intermezzo: After the job interviews 47

Scientific discovery and word meaning 51

4 Identity and Gradual Change 54

Identity: The case of Old Number One 54

Multiplying objects 57

Dialogue intermezzo: On Old Number One 59

What makes a book? 61

What makes a person? 62

What is a language? 64

Digression: Protection against change 65

So what? 68

5 Vagueness in Numbers and Maths 70

Vagueness in mathematics 71

Talking about numbers 77

Which computer program is fastest? 81

Statistical significance 84

Part II Theories of Vagueness

6 The Linguistics of Vagueness 93

Chomsky's machine: Computing grammaticality 93

Montague's machine: Computing meaning 95

The role of language corpora 101

Vague adjectives 103

The meaning of adjectives 105

Vagueness and ambiguity 110

Lack of specificity 115

Prototypes 117

Comparatives 119

Packaging what we say: Hedging 120

Future work 123

7 Reasoning with Vague Information 126

Reasoning with vague concepts 127

The sorites paradox 134

Vagueness as ignorance 138

Similarity is in the eye of the beholder: The case of colour 141

Dialogue intermezzo: On vagueness as ignorance 145

Continuity and vagueness 149

8 Parrying a Paradox 154

Logic and paradox 154

A crash course in classical logic 156

First deviation: Supervaluations and partial logic 161

Second deviation: Context-aware reasoning 167

Third deviation: Introspective agents 179

9 Degrees of Truth 187

Fuzzy logic 189

Dialogue intermezzo: On fuzzy logic 196

Fuzzy logic and the sorites paradox 200

Probabilistic versions of many-valued logic 203

What's wrong with degrees? 213

Part III Working Models of Vagueness

10 Artificial Intelligence 221

A brief history of AI 221

Artificial intelligence? 225

Qualitative reasoning 227

Applying fuzzy logic: An artificial doctor 229

The future of AI 233

11 When to be Vague: Computers as Authors 236

Example: Generating vague descriptions 241

Dialogue intermezzo: What use is a theory? 248

Tolerance revisited 251

A game theory perspective 252

Vagueness in the absence of conflict 261

Why do we speak? 271

12 The Expulsion from Boole's Paradise 277

Earlier questions revisited 277

Coping with vagueness 284

Epilogue: Guaranteed Correct 289

Notes 293

Recommended Reading 315

References 319

Index 333

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >