From Logic Programming to Human Reasoning: How to be Artificially Human

By Emmanuelle Dietz,
TU Dresden
June 2017


Results of psychological experiments have shown that humans make assumptions, which are not necessarily valid, that they are influenced by their background knowledge and that they reason non-monotonically. These observations show that classical logic does not seem to be adequate for modeling human reasoning. Instead of assuming that humans do not reason logically at all, we take the view that humans do not reason classical logically. Our goal is to model episodes of human reasoning and for this purpose we investigate the so-called Weak Completion Semantics. The Weak Completion Semantics is a Logic Programming approach and considers the least model of the weak completion of logic programs under the three-valued Lukasiewicz logic.

As the Weak Completion Semantics is relatively new and has not yet been extensively investigated, we first motivate why this approach is interesting for modeling human reasoning. After that, we show the formal correspondence to the already established Stable Model Semantics and Well-founded Semantics. Next, we present an extension with an additional context operator, that allows us to express negation as failure. Finally, we propose a contextual abductive reasoning approach, in which the context of observations is relevant. Some properties do not hold anymore under this extension.

Besides discussing the well-known psychological experiments Byrne’s suppression task and Wason’s selection task, we investigate an experiment in spatial reasoning, an experiment in syllogistic reasoning and an experiment that examines the belief-bias effect. We show that the results of these experiments can be adequately modeled under the Weak Completion Semantics. A result which stands out here, is the outcome of modeling the syllogistic reasoning experiment, as we have a higher prediction match with the participants’ answers than any of twelve current cognitive theories.

We present an abstract evaluation system for conditionals and discuss well-known examples from the literature. We show that in this system, conditionals can be evaluated in various ways and we put up the hypothesis that humans use a particular evaluation strategy, namely that they prefer abduction to revision. We also discuss how relevance plays a role in the evaluation process of conditionals. For this purpose we propose a semantic definition of relevance and justify why this is preferable to a exclusively syntactic definition. Finally, we show that our system is more general than another system, which has recently been presented in the literature.
Altogether, this thesis shows one possible path on bridging the gap between Cognitive Science and Computational Logic. We investigated findings from psychological experiments and modeled their results within one formal approach, the Weak Completion Semantics. Furthermore, we proposed a general evaluation system for conditionals, for which we suggest a specific evaluation strategy. Yet, the outcome cannot be seen as the ultimate solution but delivers a starting point for new open questions in both areas.