Empirically-based self-diagnosis and repair of domain knowledge
Jones, Joshua K.
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In this work, I view incremental experiential learning in intelligent software agents as progressive agent self-adaptation. When an agent produces an incorrect behavior, then it may reflect on, and thus diagnose and repair, the reasoning and knowledge that produced the incorrect behavior. In particular, I focus on the self-diagnosis and self-repair of an agent's domain knowledge. The implementation of systems with the capability to self-diagnose and self-repair involves building both reasoning processes capable of such learning and knowledge representations capable of supporting those reasoning processes. The core issue my dissertation addresses is: what kind of metaknowledge (knowledge about knowledge) may enable the agent to diagnose faults in its domain knowledge? In providing a solution to this issue, the central contribution of this research is a theory of the kind of metaknowledge that enables a system to reason about and adapt its conceptual knowledge. For this purpose, I propose a representation that explicitly encodes metaknowledge in the form of procedures called Empirical Verification Procedures (EVPs). In the proposed knowledge representation, an EVP is associated with each concept within the agent's domain knowledge. Each EVP explicitly semantically grounds the associated concept in the agent's perception, and can thus be used as a test to determine the validity of knowledge of that concept during diagnosis. I present the formal and empirical evaluation of a system, Augur, that makes use of EVP metaknowledge to adapt its own domain knowledge in the context of a particular subclass of classification problem that I call compositional classification, in which the overall classification task can be broken into a hierarchically organized set of subtasks. I hypothesize that EVP metaknowledge will enable a system to automatically adapt its knowledge in two ways: first, by adjusting the ways that inputs are categorized by a concept, in accordance with semantics fixed by an associated EVP; and second, by adjusting the semantics of concepts themselves when they fail to contribute appropriately to system goals. The latter adaptation is realized by altering the EVP associated with the concept in question. I further hypothesize that the semantic grounding of domain concepts in perception through the use of EVPs will increase the generalization power of a learner that operates over those concepts, and thus make learning more efficient. Beyond the support of these hypotheses, I also present results pertinent to the understanding of learning in compositional classification settings using structured knowledge representations.