Parts, Wholes, and Part-Whole Relations: The Prospects of Mereotopology

Data and Knowledge Engineering 20:259–286 (1996)
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Abstract

We can see mereology as a theory of parthood and topology as a theory of wholeness. How can these be combined to obtain a unified theory of parts and wholes? This paper examines various non-equivalent ways of pursuing this task, with specific reference to its relevance to spatio-temporal reasoning. In particular, three main strategies are compared: (i) mereology and topology as two independent (though mutually related) chapters; (ii) mereology as a general theory subsuming topology; (iii) topology as a general theory subsuming mereology. Some more speculative strategies and directions for further research are also considered.

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Achille C. Varzi
Columbia University

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