Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Norvig I 279
Frame Problem/artificial intelligence/Norvig/Russell: The frame problem was first recognized by McCarthy and Hayes (1969)(1). Many researchers considered the problem unsolvable within first-order logic, and it spurred a great deal of research into non-monotonic logics. Philosophers from Dreyfus (1972)(2) to Crockett (1994)(3) have cited the frame problem as one symptom of the inevitable failure of the entire AI enterprise. The solution of the frame problem with successor-state axioms is due to Ray Reiter (1991)(4). Thielscher (1999)(5) identifies the inferential frame problem as a separate idea and provides a solution.
In retrospect, one can see that Rosenschein’s (1985)(6) agents were using circuits that implemented successor-state axioms, but Rosenschein did not notice that the frame problem was thereby largely solved. Foo (2001)(7) explains why the discrete-event control theory models typically used by engineers do not have to explicitly deal with the frame problem: because they are dealing with prediction and control, not with explanation and reasoning about counterfactual situations.


1. McCarthy, J. and Hayes, P. J. (1969). Some philosophical problems from the standpoint of artificial
intelligence. In Meltzer, B., Michie, D., and Swann, M. (Eds.), Machine Intelligence 4, pp. 463-502. Edinburgh University Press
2. Dreyfus, H. L. (1972). What Computers Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason. Harper and Row
3. Crockett, L. (1994). The Turing Test and the Frame Problem: AI’s Mistaken Understanding of Intelligence. Ablex
4. Reiter, R. (1991). The frame problem in the situation calculus: A simple solution (sometimes) and
a completeness result for goal regression. In Lifschitz, V. (Ed.), Artificial Intelligence and Mathematical
Theory of Computation: Papers in Honor of John McCarthy, pp. 359–380. Academic Press.
5. Thielscher, M. (1999). From situation calculus to fluent calculus: State update axioms as a solution to
the inferential frame problem. AIJ, 111(1-2), 277-299.
6. Rosenschein, S. J. (1985). Formal theories of knowledge in AI and robotics. New Generation
Computing, 3(4), 345-357.
7. Foo, N. (2001). Why engineering models do not have a frame problem. In Discrete event modeling
and simulation technologies: a tapestry of systems and AI-based theories and methodologies. Springer-Verlag.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
AI Research
Norvig I
Peter Norvig
Stuart J. Russell
Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach Upper Saddle River, NJ 2010


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-09-15
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