Logic and Computation Courses

Advanced Courses

Logical foundations of categorization theory

Fei Liang and Alessandra Palmigiano

Week 2, August 10-14, 2020


Categories are cognitive tools that humans use to organize their experience, understand and function in the world, and understand and interact with each other, by grouping things together which can be meaningfully compared and evaluated. They are key to the use of language, the construction of knowledge and identity, and the formation of agents' evaluations and decisions. Categorization is the basic operation humans perform e.g.~when they relate experiences/actions/objects in the present to ones in the past, thereby recognizing them as instances of the same type.

This is what we do when we try and understand what an object is or does, or what a situation means, and when we make judgments or decisions based on experience. The literature on categorization is expanding rapidly in fields ranging from cognitive linguistics to social and management science to AI, and the emerging insights common to these disciplines concern the dynamic essence of categories, and the tight interconnection between the dynamics of categories and processes of social interaction. However, these key aspects are precisely those that both the extant foundational views on categorization and the extant mathematical models for concept-formation struggle the most to address.

The main idea this course will try to convey is that categorization is the single cognitive mechanism underlying meaning-attribution, value-attribution and decision-making. In this course, we will discuss a logical approach which aims at creating an environment in which these three cognitive processes can be analyzed in their relationships to one another, and propose several research directions, developing which, logicians can build novel foundations of categorization theory.


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32nd European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information - ESSLLI 2021
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