Context as a spurious concept. Hirst, G. In Proceedings, Conference on Intelligent Text Processing and Computational Linguistics, pages 273–287, Mexico City, Mexico, February, 2000. Supersedes 1997 version
abstract   bibtex   
I take issue with AI formalizations of context, primarily the formalization by McCarthy and Buvac, that regard context as an undefined primitive whose formalization can be the same in many different kinds of AI tasks. In particular, any theory of context in natural language must take the special nature of natural language into account and cannot regard context simply as an undefined primitive. I show that there is no such thing as a coherent theory of context simpliciter–-context pure and simple–-and that context in natural language is not the same kind of thing as context in KR. In natural language, context is constructed by the speaker and the interpreter, and both have considerable discretion in so doing. Therefore, a formalization based on pre-defined contexts and pre-defined `lifting axioms' cannot account for how context is used in real-world language.
@InProceedings{	  hirst9,
  author	= {Graeme Hirst},
  title		= {Context as a spurious concept},
  booktitle	= {Proceedings, Conference on Intelligent Text Processing and
		  Computational Linguistics},
  address	= {Mexico City, Mexico},
  month		= {February},
  year		= {2000},
  pages		= {273--287},
  note		= {Supersedes 1997 version},
  abstract	= {I take issue with AI formalizations of context, primarily
		  the formalization by McCarthy and Buvac, that regard
		  context as an undefined primitive whose formalization can
		  be the same in many different kinds of AI tasks. In
		  particular, any theory of context in natural language must
		  take the special nature of natural language into account
		  and cannot regard context simply as an undefined primitive.
		  I show that there is no such thing as a coherent theory of
		  context <I>simpliciter</I>---context pure and simple---and
		  that context in natural language is not the same kind of
		  thing as context in KR. In natural language, context is
		  <B>constructed</B> by the speaker and the interpreter, and
		  both have considerable discretion in so doing. Therefore, a
		  formalization based on pre-defined contexts and pre-defined
		  `lifting axioms' cannot account for how context is used in
		  real-world language.},
  download	= {http://ftp.cs.toronto.edu/pub/gh/Hirst-CICLing-2000.pdf}
}

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