chapter  1
33 Pages

Neat Versus Scruffy: A Review of Computational Models for Spatial Expressions

This chapter reviews the computational modalities for representing spatial expressions. The focus is on computational or synthetic models, as opposed to cognitive or linguistic aspects. A number of formalisms based on qualitative paradigms such as topology seek to discretize space into regions based on alignment or tangency. This approach may be termed as “neat.” Yet a large class of spatial expressions (e.g., “near,” “move away from”) do not involve alignments, and even some that do (e.g., “in front of”) have gradations. These gradations in a continuum are clearly less “neat”; we may view these as “scruffy”; there appears to be a growing trend toward the scruffy in recent times. The distinctions between the different models reviewed are demonstrated using the canonical example of “the chair in front of the desk.”