The Cyc Lexicon

author: Elizabeth Coppock, Cycorp Inc.
introducer: Tadej Štajner, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Jožef Stefan Institute
published: April 12, 2010,   recorded: March 2010,   views: 12967


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The Cyc knowledge base (KB) is a formalized representation of a vast quantity of fundamental human knowledge: facts, rules of thumb, and heuristics for reasoning about the objects and events of everyday life. The medium of representation is the formal language CycL, described below. The KB consists of terms--which constitute the vocabulary of CycL--and assertions which relate those terms. These assertions include both simple ground assertions and rules. Cyc is not a frame-based system: the Cyc team thinks of the KB instead as a sea of assertions, with each assertion being no more "about" one of the terms involved than another.

The Cyc KB is divided into many (currently thousands of) "microtheories", each of which is essentially a bundle of assertions that share a common set of assumptions; some microtheories are focused on a particular domain of knowledge, a particular level of detail, a particular interval in time, etc. The microtheory mechanism allows Cyc to independently maintain assertions which are prima facie contradictory, and enhances the performance of the Cyc system by focusing the inferencing process.

At the present time, the Cyc KB contains nearly five hundred thousand terms, including about fifteen thousand types of relations, and about five million facts (assertions) relating these terms. New assertions are continually added to the KB through a combination of automated and manual means. Additionally, term-denoting functions allow for the automatic creation of millions of non-atomic terms, such as (LiquidFn Nitrogen); and Cyc adds a vast number of assertions to the KB by itself as a product of the inferencing process.

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