Spatial Reasoning in Comparative Analyses of Physics Diagrams

  • Maria D. Chang
  • Jon W. Wetzel
  • Kenneth D. Forbus
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8684)


Spatial reasoning plays a critical role in STEM problem solving. Physics assessments, for example, are rich in diagrams and pictures, which help people understand concrete physical scenarios and abstract aspects of physical reasoning. In this paper we describe a system that analyzes sketched diagrams to solve qualitative physics problems from a popular physics textbook. Causal models describing each problem are formulated via visual and conceptual analyses of the sketched diagrams. We use a combination of qualitative and quantitative reasoning to solve vector addition, tension, and gravitation ranking problems in the introductory chapters of the book.


Spatial reasoning spatial problem solving qualitative reasoning conceptual physics diagrammatic reasoning 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria D. Chang
    • 1
  • Jon W. Wetzel
    • 1
  • Kenneth D. Forbus
    • 1
  1. 1.Qualitative Reasoning GroupNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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