Dealing with Concepts: from Cognitive Psychology to Knowledge Representation

Frontiers of Psychological and Behevioural Science 2 (3):96-106 (2013)
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Abstract

Concept representation is still an open problem in the field of ontology engineering and, more generally, of knowledge representation. In particular, the issue of representing “non classical” concepts, i.e. concepts that cannot be defined in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, remains unresolved. In this paper we review empirical evidence from cognitive psychology, according to which concept representation is not a unitary phenomenon. On this basis, we sketch some proposals for concept representation, taking into account suggestions from psychological research. In particular, it seems that human beings employ both prototype-based and exemplar-based representations in order to represent non classical concepts. We suggest that a similar, hybrid prototype-exemplar based approach could also prove useful in the field of knowledge representation technology. Finally, we propose conceptual spaces as a suitable framework for developing some aspects of this proposal.

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Antonio Lieto
University of Turin

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