4.1206 Informal Computing Workshop (1/87)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 4 Apr 91 16:55:38 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 1206. Thursday, 4 Apr 1991.

Date: Wed, 03 Apr 91 16:15:30 -0500
From: Jon Shultis <jon@incsys.com>
Subject: Informal Computing Workshop

Workshop on Informal Computing

29-31 May 1991
Santa Cruz, California

Fundamental questions about the nature of informality are gaining
importance in computer science. What is informal understanding? What
is the nature of informal reasoning? Why is it so powerful and
efficient? How are the inconsistency, vagueness, and incompleteness of
informal thought managed? How does natural language manage to
communicate informal knowledge and reasoning? Computer applications in
many fields, ranging from economics and medicine to software engineering
and artificial intelligence, demand effective and cognitively accurate
answers to these questions in order to capture, represent, and process
informal information in computer systems.

Inspired by trends toward formalization in logic, mathematics,
linguistics, and philosophy, computer scientists historically have
tended to regard informal processes as approximate, or imperfect,
realizations of formal ideals. Increasingly, however, the idea that
informal languages, ontology, and reasoning can (or should) be reduced
to (or supplanted by) regimented and "perfected" formalisms is being
challenged. Far from being flawed formalisms, informal processes are
emerging as fundamental to human understanding and language. From the
"informalist" perspective, formalism has been mistaken for the paradigm
of intelligence, rather than simply a useful outgrowth of intelligence.

The purpose of the Workshop on Informal Computing is to define the study
of Informalism, and to begin a coordinated attack on the fundamental
issues and problems of the field, bringing together the insights and
experience of those who have been working to understand informality in
specialized domains.

Discussion at the workshop will focus on three major themes: informal
knowledge and reasoning; modelling and interpretation; and
conversational computing and adaptive languages. Relevant topics
include, but are not limited to: intentionality and consciousness;
dialogue management; informal meaning and pragmatics; evidential
reasoning and belief; resource- and information-limited reasoning;
neurocomputation; lessons and techniques from computational linguistics;
dynamical and chaotic representations and reasoning; and philosophy of

The program will be divided between hour-long presentations by invited
speakers, and discussion sessions aimed at defining and clarifying
informal computing issues, and at identifying promising directions and
approaches for future research. The discussion sessions should provide
ample opportunity for participants to exchange views, and the schedule
will be flexible enough to permit impromptu presentations as
appropriate. Also, a follow-up conference may be organized if there is
sufficient interest. We are busy making arrangements for speakers and
drawing up the schedule, but the basic plan is to devote one day to each
of the three themes mentioned above. A preliminary list of speakers

Bruce d'Ambrosio (Oregon State University)
Sandra Carberry (University of Delaware)
David Fisher (Incremental Systems)
Donald Good (Computational Logic)
David Mundie (Incremental Systems)
Larry Reeker (IDA)
Jeff Rothenberg (RAND)
Jon Shultis (Incremental Systems)
Tim Standish (University of California at Irvine)
Edward Zalta (Stanford University)

The final program will be announced on or before 8 May 1991.

If you are interested in participating in the workshop, please submit, by
12 April 1991, a brief summary of your interests, and previous or ongoing
research that is relevant to the workshop themes. The summaries will be
reviewed, and notices of acceptance sent out on 26 April 1991, together
with local arrangements information. Summaries should be sent to

Jon Shultis
Incremental Systems Corporation
319 South Craig Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

e-mail: jon@incsys.com
tel: (412) 621-8888
FAX: (412) 621-0259

Funding for the Workshop on Informal Computing is being provided by
DARPA/ISTO in conjunction with ongoing research at Incremental Systems
Corporation on adaptive languages for software engineering.