Can Practice Based Knowledge Be Formalized?

  • Priyan DiasEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Applied Sciences and Technology book series (BRIEFSAPPLSCIENCES)


Michael Polanyi’s epistemology and Martin Heidegger’s ontology provide a strong rationale for the notion of practice based knowledge. Tacit knowing (Polanyi) and pre-theoretical shared practice (Heidegger) are two such philosophical concepts. Practice based knowledge can be categorized as being either historical (structured) or horizontal (unstructured). Approaches such as Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), Case Based Reasoning (CBR), Expert Systems and Grounded Theory (with Interval Probability Theory) are able to model philosophical concepts related to practice based knowledge. Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques using a connectionist paradigm are more appropriate for modelling the ideas of Polanyi and Heidegger; however, the generation of knowledge will inevitably involve some cognitivism. Examples from engineering practice are used to demonstrate how the above techniques can capture, structure and process such knowledge for practitioners.


Tacit knowing Pre-theoretical shared practice Historical versus horizontal knowledge Connectionist Artificial intelligence 



Adapted from Knowledge Based Systems, 20(4), 382–387, Philosophical grounding and computational formalization for practice based engineering knowledge by W. P. S. Dias, 2007, with permission from Elsevier.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of MoratuwaMoratuwaSri Lanka

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