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07 Apr A Good Excuse for Heuristic Logic

Cogs in the EngineDichotomous logic is useful for reasoning about form or the way things are. Function, or cause and effect, however, is fuzzier because observation may not be enough to exclude other processes that lead to the same result. Heuristic logic applies to function instead of form, prescribing actions based facts. Heuristics often operate at a relatively fine granularity (at the level of the cog instead of the entire machine). Reactive systems may be based on mathematically tuned heuristics (Aceto 2007), and reactive capabilities may be built into Expert Systems or Decision Support Systems. Today, to help us get a feel for heuristic logic,  I have prepared some examples.

Understanding Context Cross-Reference
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Section 5 #35

Fuzzy Logic Icon


Table of Context

Here are some examples of heuristic logic or propositions that expose multiple possibilities of action.

Event Date and TimeTo save time on a task –

  1. IF two tasks have different time requirements THEN choose task that best fills time available.
  2. IF someone else is willing to do task #1 THEN delegate task #1 to her or him.
  3. IF task X can be divided into independent subtasks THEN recruit help.
  4. IF labor-saving equipment is available to expedite this taks THEN use it.

Car DriverTo save time on the road –

  1. IF destination is more than two blocks away THEN don’t walk, ride.
  2. IF route A is shorter than route B THEN take route A.
  3. IF there is normally traffic jams on route A THEN take route B.
  4. IF there are police patrolling the highway THEN avoid being stopped by driving the speed limit.

HomeworkTo save time on assignments –

  1. IF the chapter is too long to read in the allotted time THEN skim it.
  2. IF you can write faster than you can type THEN write.
  3. IF you make lots of mistakes writing with a pen THEN use a word processor.
  4. If you think you may need help THEN get help early rather than struggling with it too long.

When we reason and generalize about form, we work with knowledge that is taxonomical or hierarchical. Function knowledge, however, is causal in nature. Consequently, we need to use different forms of logic to think about function than form. The examples above are not black and white. The thought processes behind evaluating which of many options to choose are absolutely not black and white. Heuristic knowledge and decision making require us to be able to process multiple shades of gray.

More Heuristic Examples

Here are some more complex excuse heuristics for the late assignment:

  1. IF the guy I paid to do the assignment takes the money and heads for the border AND I have to hire a lawyer and posse THEN I will not get it in on time.
  2. IF my textbook is taken hostage by Iowa fundamentalists AND it takes me 15 days to raise the ransom money THEN my assignment will be late.
  3. IF my bicycle gets mangled in a road construction sign AND I have to walk 29 miles each way to school THEN I will not have enough time to do the assignment.
  4. IF the cold snap causes my water pipes to freeze and break AND water runs into my door THEN I’m stuck in house for eight days AND the assignment will be late.
  5. IF my Uncle Herman (Sticky Fingers) from the island paradise of Alcatraz comes to visit THEN I spend all my time entertaining him AND the assignment will be late.
  6. IF my cheap pencil keeps breaking THEN I spend so much time sharpening it and buying new cheap pencils that I can’t finish the assignment on time.
  7. IF I have a rare condition where my eyes go blurry each time I look at questions for more than ten seconds THEN it will take me one week for each question AND the assignment will be late.
  8. IF the paper on which I’m writing answers catches fire THEN I will have to call the fire department and fill out insurance forms AND the assignment will be late.
  9. IF I break my right hand THEN I can’t write or type until my hand heals AND the assignment will late.
  10. IF my wife goes into labor just before the assignment is due THEN I will be late for class AND the assignment will be late.

Making excuses is an advanced form of heuristic reasoning. We must reason backwards from the known to the possible. We often begin with a knowledge of the truth about why or how something did or did not happen. If we conclude that that reason will be insufficient for us to meet some objective (such as preserving our grade point average), we attempt to develop a persuasive lie (excuse) that will be believable and will help us accomplish our objective.

Backward Chaining Rules

At the end of code, heuristics may supplant apps and programs as the fundamental element of process used by machines to calculate results and perform functions.

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