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Modelling and Reasoning with Vague Concepts

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Vagueness is central to the flexibility and robustness of natural language descriptions. Vague concepts are robust to the imprecision of our perceptions, while still allowing us to convey useful, and sometimes vital, information. The study of vagueness in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is therefore motivated by the desire to incorporate this robustness and flexibility into intelligent computer systems. Such a goal, however, requires a formal model of vague concepts that will allow us to quantify and manipulate the uncertainty resulting from their use as a means of passing information between autonomous agents. This volume outlines a formal representation framework for modelling and reasoning with vague concepts in Artificial Intelligence. The new calculus has many applications, especially in automated reasoning, learning, data analysis and information fusion. This book gives a rigorous introduction to label semantics theory, illustrated with many examples, and suggests clear operational interpretations of the proposed measures. It also provides a detailed description of how the theory can be applied in data analysis and information fusion based on a range of benchmark problems.

Vague concepts are intrinsic to human communication. Somehow it would seems that vagueness is central to the flexibility and robustness of natural language descriptions. If we were to insist on precise concept definitions then we would be able to assert very little with any degree of confidence. In many cases our perceptions simply do not provide sufficient information to allow us to verify that a set of formal conditions are met. Our decision to describe an individual as 'tall' is not generally based on any kind of accurate measurement of their height. Indeed it is part of the power of human concepts that they do not require us to make such fine judgements. They are robust to the imprecision of our perceptions, while still allowing us to convey useful, and sometimes vital, information. The study of vagueness in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is therefore motivated by the desire to incorporate this robustness and flexibility into intelligent computer systems. This goal, however, requires a formal model of vague concepts that will allow us to quantify and manipulate the uncertainty resulting from their use as a means of passing information between autonomous agents.
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