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Tutorial Information on Scone

Scott Fahlman,   December 25, 2012
Categories:  Scone    

Plans for Posting Scone Tutorials

As I wrote in the “About This Blog” description for Knowledge Nuggets, I started this blog with two goals in mind:  First, I wanted to present a series of short “nuggets” of tutorial information about the Scone knowledge-base system and about knowledge representation and reasoning (KRR) issues related to Scone.  This collection of nuggets would serve as a place-holder for the planned tutorial book on Scone and its uses, and eventually these fragments would be woven into the book itself.  Second, I wanted a venue where I could present occasional informal essays about AI and KRR in general.

I have partially met the second goal, though the pace of producing these essays has been slower than I had anticipated.  However, the goal of producing and distributing tutorial material on Scone has not yet been addressed at all.  I now want to fix that.  I’ve got a lot of little pieces of tutorial information in my head and in Emails I have sent to my students and collaborators, and I just need to start putting this information out where others can benefit from it.

Scone has been working for several years, and has been used in a number of research projects, both within CMU and with a few outside collaborators.  Of course, we have a long list of things that we want to improve and new capabilities that we want to add to Scone, as time and resources allow.  But the system is useful as it is.

Thought it is legally open-source (under the industry-friendly Apache 2 license) I have hesitated to release Scone on the Internet because we don’t have the resources to support a much larger user community, including people with little experience in KRR, AI, Common Lisp programming, or even in computing.  Several attempts to obtain the funding and resources to properly support Scone as a community resource have come up empty, but we keep trying.

However, I’ve come around to the view that it’s time – probably long past time – to put out a “no support” release of Scone, and just see what happens.  Maybe some of the more knowledgeable people out in net-land will become involved, and will help us lift Scone to the next level.  We hope to do this release in the first half of 2013, though the timing is subject to some external constraints beyond my control.  And, if all goes according to plan, you will be seeing a stream of tutorial posts on this blog.  Look for the “Scone” category tag for these Scone-specific posts, and the other tags for more general musings.

Scone is a living system, still evolving fast in some areas.  So some information that appears in these tutorial posts may be superseded by later developments.  In general, I think it will be best to leave the body of the original posts alone, and to indicate in the intro and/or the comments area that something in the post is no longer valid, with a pointer to the update.

Existing Scone Documents

Two important topic areas I want to cover early are (1) Scone’s unusual marker-passing algorithms for fast common-sense reasoning, and (2) the general ideas behind Scone’s multiple-context mechanism and its uses – probably Scone’s most novel feature compared to other KRR systems.  Both of these topics are fairly well covered by conference papers on my website, though like most conference papers they suffer a bit from the editing required to fit into tight page limits.  I may someday address these topics in “nugget” form, but for now I’m just going to point to these papers and get on with documenting some of Scone’s other features and ideas.  So if you are seriously interested in Scone, I suggest you go read these papers first:

  • Scott E. Fahlman: “Marker-Passing Inference in the Scone Knowledge-Base System”, First International Conference on Knowledge Science, Engineering and Management (KSEM’06), Guilin, China, August 2006. Proceedings published by and copyright by Springer-Verlag (Lecture Notes in AI).  PDF format 

  • Scott E. Fahlman, “Using Scone’s multiple-context mechanism to emulate human-like reasoning”, Proceedings of the AAAI Fall Symposium on Advances in Cognitive Systems, 2011.  PDF format

For those interested in where the ideas came from, you might also want to look at my old Ph.D. thesis from 1977, which was published in book form but still is also available online, in scanned form, from MIT’s archives.  Of course, there has been a good deal of progress in the 35 years since that was written, but it is remarkable to see how many of these ideas live on, in recognizable form, in present-day Scone.

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