Outline

 

Spatial Relations – The Definition
Of, relating to, involving, or having the nature of space. [1] A logical or natural association between two or more things; relevance of one to another. [1]
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Spatial
 

Relations
 

 

 

74.793 Natural Language and Speech Processing Richard Galka

 

 

Spatial Representation and Reasoning

Spatial Relations – The Definition Spatial Relation Applications Spatial Relation Classification Knowledge Representation for Qualitative Maps Existing Spatial Reasoning Systems Current Difficulties
 

Applications to A.I.
Cognitive Science – time, position, and distance are important in cognitive maps. Linguistics – meaning of position, distances and orientation are subjective. Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Computer Aided Design (CAD). Qualitative Physics. Robotics.

Applications
 

What is Spatial Relations
The development of a knowledge based system for description of environments. Considered to be complex and difficult when dealing with NL. Includes defining a computational semantics of natural language expressions.
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“Spatial Relations” is interdisciplinary field related to perception, representation, and processing of spatial relations. Important to several areas:
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Spatial Reasoning
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It can deal with imprecise data, thus yielding less precise results than quantitative approaches. [10] Sacrifices precision for simplification of reasoning and deduction.
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Most implementations rely on Euclidean geometry and the Cartesian coordinate system. A qualitative approach to spatial relations does not rely on a coordinate system and does not attempt to map all information into a framework.
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Typically classified as following:
Topological relations that describe neighborhood and incidence (e.g. Disjoint). Disjoint). Direction relations that describe order (e.g. North, south east). east). Distance relations such as far and near. Comparative and ordinal relations that describe inclusion or preference (e.g. in and at). at). Fuzzy relations such as next to and close.

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Vision Cognitive Maps Knowledge Representations Spatial Reasoning (Inference of spatial relations) Spatial Data Structures
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Describing spatial relations between physical objects. Often expressions contain prepositions relating one object to one or more others objects.

Classification of Qualitative Spatial Relations

Knowledge Representation
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Knowledge Representation
A spatial constraint network is a graph-based description of a scene.
Nodes represent objects Arcs correspond to spatial relations. Insertion of a relation between two objects may yield additional constraints between other objects. Some research [6,7] has involved constraint propagation and consistency checking in these networks.
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Many systems concerned with qualitative spatial reasoning have focused on logic based spatial representation.
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Convert real-world knowledge into predicates and rules of inference.
left(A,C), below(A,B), contains(A,D), covers(A,E) meet(A,B), disjoint(A,C), disjoint(B,C) left(X,Y) and left(Y,Z) => left(X,Z) contains(X,Y) and disjoint(X,Z) => disjoint(Y,Z)

Knowledge Representation
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Knowledge Representation
“Symbolic Arrays” represent complex spatial objects in various levels of abstraction.
Array #1 preserves direction relations, while the array #2 incorporates more details about the spatial knowledge.
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Chang et al. [8] developed the twodimensional string representation for encoding symbolic images.
Distinct objects are denoted by different symbols.
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2) B C A A A A A A C

X: {0 | A | ADA | A | AC | AEAC | AEA | A | 0} Y: {0 | A | ADA | A | AEA | A | 0 | C | 0}

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Knowledge Representation
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Why Relation based?
The above representations systems are relationbased:
They use spatial relations among symbolically represented objects rather than absolute coordinates.
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Many papers suggest the use of multiple representations to allow for ‘maximal’ knowledge representation.
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Vision systems often include geometric mapping and occupancy grids.
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Relation-Based Information Processing
 

 

 

A computational or cognitive relation-based system involves information retrieval and reasoning. This involves generating inference rules that are often task and domain oriented. Often using more than one representation of the environment can improve system performance and reliance.

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It can be seen that the pure relation-based representations above deal with partial knowledge. Some projects use two or more representations to increase representation accuracy.
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These logic based structures are used in qualitative spatial relations, often with well understood semantics and inference rules. Other map based representations can require extreme amounts of information, lack well defined rules, and increase complexity for knowledge acquisition.

Approaches to Spatial Reasoning Systems
SPAM[11] – took topological information with metrics represented by fuzzy maps. Information was stored in “fuzzy ranges”. Mercator[12] – used grids for vertices with arcs of fuzzy lengths to represent boundaries. Soccer[13] – describes short image sequences of soccer games. Processes incoming information simultaneously while the scene progresses.

CityTour [4]
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CityTour
Queries:
 

Allows for use of prepositions “in-front, behind”.
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“Is the post office behind the church from here?”
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WordsEye [5]
Uses natural language as a medium for generation of graphical images. Relies on a large database of objects to depict the scenes.
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Object information includes the 3D models, physical displacement, parts, functional properties, spatial tags. Each object has a spatial tag which represents the shape of the object. (i.e. an ashtray has a tag of cup).
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Ex. “John uses the crossbow. He rides the horse by the store. The store is under the large window. The small allosaurus is in front of the horse. The dinosaur faces John. A gigantic teacup is in front of the store. The dinosaur is in front of the horse. The gigantic mushroom is in the teacup. The castle is to the right of the store.” [5]

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Uses two-dimensional representation. Dynamic and static environment. Involves simple temporal knowledge. Static objects are all considered closed objects and all have a pre-defined “prominent” front.
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“Is the post office behind the church?”
“No, that' not the s case”.

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The German system CityTour is a question answering system which uses a pre-created virtual city and a tour bus as a point of reference.
 

“Is the post office beside the chuch?”
“Yes, the post office is beside the church”.

WordsEye

Difficulties
 

Current Difficulties
There are several papers that focus on specific tasks.
Entire papers written about the word “round” and how it relates to spatial relations [2] [3]. Spatial Prepositions, Positive Gradable Adjectives, Orientation Distinction, Qualitative Distances, Temporal Knowledge, Implicit Constraints, among several others.
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“The treatment of the uncertainty inherent in qualitative spatial descriptions causes problems that cannot be overcome easily in methods translating the problem to the quantitative realm.”
- McDermott and Davis [11]
This is why construction of expert systems dealing with spacial relations and spatial problems has been recognized as being difficult. [14]

In natural language round can be classified as an Adjective, Adverb, Noun, Preposition and a Verb.

References
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References
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The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (2000). Giularova, Xenia (1997). Polsemy of adjective round via Lakoff’s radial category structuring. Schulze, Rainer (1991). Getting round to (a)round: Towards a description and analysis of a spatial predicate. Andre et. al. (1987). Coping with the Intrinsic and Deictic Uses of Spatial Prepositions. Coyne and Sproat (2001). WordsEye: An Automatic Text-to-Scene Conversion System.

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Hernandex (1993). Maintaining Qualitative Spatial Knowledge. Egenhofer, Herring (1999). A Mathematical Framework for the Definitions of Topological Relationships. Change, Shi, Yan (1987). Iconic Indexing by 2-D String. Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection (1999), “Physical Map of the World”. Freska (1991). Qualitative Spatial Reasoning.

References
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

McDermott, Davis (1984). Planning Routes Through Uncertain Territory. Davis (1983). The MERCATOR representation of spatial knowledge. Andre, Herzog (1989). Natural Language Access to Visual Data: Dealing with Space and Movement. Bobrow et. al. (1996). A compositional modeling language. Semantic Light LLC. URL:http://www.semanticlight.com/ Viewed: March 05, 2004.