Cognitive Computation

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 555–576 | Cite as

Learning the Semantics of Notational Systems with a Semiotic Cognitive Automaton

  • Valerio TargonEmail author


Through semiotic modelling, a system can retrieve and manipulate its own representational formats to interpret a series of observations; this is in contrast to information processing approaches that require representational formats to be specified beforehand and thus limit the semantic properties that the system can experience. Our semiotic cognitive automaton is driven only by the observations it makes and therefore operates based on grounded symbols. A best-case scenario for our automaton involves observations that are univocally interpreted—i.e. distinct observation symbols—and that make reference to a reality characterised by “hard constraints”. Arithmetic offers such a scenario. The gap between syntax and semantics is also subtle in the case of calculations. Our automaton starts without any a priori knowledge of mathematical formalisms and not only learns the syntactical rules by which arithmetic operations are solved but also reveals the true meaning of numbers by means of second-order reasoning.


Symbol grounding problem Semiotic modelling Second-order reasoning Extended correlation Desmogram Abductive reasoning 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Valerio Targon declares that he has no conflict of interest

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008 (5). Additional informed consent was obtained from all patients for which identifying information is included in this article.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Patent OfficeThe HagueThe Netherlands

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