Vocabulary introduction

  • Copyright © 2020, Kevin Dowd


    To read human language, Brainhat has to recognize the tokens (words) and it has to make sense of their order. Tokens and order are prescribed by a vocabulary and a grammar. The vocabulary says what the tokens can be. The grammar says how they can be combined. The vocabulary and grammar create the possibilies for, and define the limits of, what Brainhat can understand.

    Brainhat's vocabulary is defined hierarchically. A poodle is a dog, a dog is a pet, a pet is an animal, and so on. Concepts for hamster, cat, dog and wildebeast are children (hierarchically) of the concept for animal. So, we may ask if a wildebeast is an animal and whether it shares some features in common with dogs, and the answer will be "yes." However, there is no upward path from wildebeast to pet. Therefore a wildebeast is not a pet.

                  o things          o actions          o adjectives
                 /|\               /|\                /|\
                / | \             / | \              / | \
               /  |  \           o  |  o to eat     o  |  \
              o   |   \      to be  |           happy  |    o pretty
       vegetable  |    \            o to sense         |
                  |     o          / \                 o color
                  |   mineral     /   \               / \
           animal o              o     \             /   \
                  |\       to hear     to see       o     o red
                  | \                           blue     / \
                  |  o wildebeast                       /   \
                  |                                    /     o
                  o pet                               /     pink
                 /|\                                 o
                / | \                             scarlet
               /  |  o cat
      hamster o   |
                  o dog
           poodle o

    A vocabulary definition appears below. This definition has multiple synonyms: "hot dog", "hot dogs" and the name "hotdog-1". To reference this definition, one could refer to it by any of the synonyms, e.g. "the dog ate a hot dog" or "the dog ate a hotdog." [footnote: You'll notice that we've grouped plural and singular forms together. This is not a requirement; the vocabulary can be built so that singular and plural are distinct. For the time-being, and for simplicity, we will work with combined forms.]

        define      hotdog-1
                    label           hot dogs
                    label           hot dog
                    label           hotdogs
                    label           hotdog
                    orthogonal      food-1
                    child-of        food-1

    When a word has two or more distinct meanings, there may be two or more definitions. For example, a ball is round, a ball has the quality of being a certain color, a "ball" is a toy. A "ball" might also be a formal dance, with an orchestra and glass slippers.

        define      ball-1
                    label           balls
                    label           ball
                    child-of        toy-1
                    wants           color-1
                    wants           size-1
                    related         round-1
                    related         play-1
                    wants           shape-1
        define      ball-2
                    label           balls
                    label           ball
                    child-of        party-1
                    related         loud-1
                    wants           volume-1

    To tell the two forms of ball apart, we may add hints to the definitions. If we say "the ball is red," chances are that we'll get the correct sense of the word "ball" because of the hint that says "ball-1 wants color-1". Once Brainhat has been processing data for a while, reliance on hints in the vocabulary become less important. Instead, Brainhat will look to memories and context when trying to determine the sense of a word.

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