An event-based approach to spatial information

  • Michael J. Almeida
Representations of Spatial Concepts
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1329)


The notion of the location of an object at a moment of time is relatively straightforward, it is the region of space occupied by the object at that time. However, we are often concerned with the location of something over an extended period of time, as in Alice was in the room for ten minutes. Conceptualizing the location of an object in this case is much more difficult because changes of a spatial nature, i.e., changes in position, size or shape, can occur to any or all of the objects being related. Motion of course always involves changes in the location of at least one of the related objects. In this paper we propose an eventbased approach to the representation of spatial information in natural language. The essential idea is to treat spatial relations as event types. The utility of this proposal is illustrated through examples of representations of locative events, various types of motion events, spatial deixis and spatial anaphora. Finally, we show how the atemporal spatial axioms of Randell, Cui & Cohn (1992) can be translated into event-based axioms for time-aware spatial reasoning.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen, J.F., and Hayes, P.J. 1987. Moments and Points in an Interval-Based Temporal Logic, Technical Report, TR 180, Depts. of Computer Science and Philosophy, University of Rochester.Google Scholar
  2. Asher, N. and Sablayrolles, P. 1995. A Typology and Discourse Semantics for Motion Verbs and Spatial PPs in French. Journal of Semantics (12): 163–209.Google Scholar
  3. Asher N. and Vieu L. 1995. Toward a Geometry of Common Sense: A Semantics and a Complete Axiomatization of Mereotopolgy. In Proceedings of IJCAI, Montreal, Canada, August, pp.846–852.Google Scholar
  4. Clarke, B.L. 1981. A Calculus of Individuals Based on ‘Connection'. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 22(3):204–218.Google Scholar
  5. Clarke, B.L. 1985. Individuals and Points. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 26(1):61–75.Google Scholar
  6. Creary, L.G.; Gawron, J.M.; and Nerbonne, J. 1989. Reference to Locations. In Proceedings of the 27th Annual Meeting of the ACL, 42–50. University of British Columbia, Canada.Google Scholar
  7. Davidson, D. 1967. The Logical Form of Action Sentences. In The Logic of Decision and Action. N. Rescher ed. University of Pittsburgh Press. Reprinted in D. Davidson, Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford University Press 1980.Google Scholar
  8. Davis, E. 1990. Representations of Commonsense Knowledge. Morgan Kaufmann.Google Scholar
  9. Galton, A. 1990. A Critical Examination of Allen's Theory of Action and Time. Artificial Intelligence 42(2-3):159–188.Google Scholar
  10. Galton, A. 1995. Towards a Qualitative Theory of Movement. In Spatial Information Theory — Proceedings of COSIT '95, Lecture Notes in Computer Science #988, Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  11. Herskovits, A. 1986. Language and Spatial Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Study of the Prepositions in English. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Jackendoff, R. 1983. Semantics and Cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Randell, D.A.; Cui, Z.; and Cohn, A.G. 1992. A Spatial Logic Based on Regions and Connection. In Proceedings of the Third Conference on Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning, 165–176. Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  14. Parsons, T. 1990. Events in the Semantics of English. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  15. Wilensky, R. 1991. Sentences, Situations, and Propositions. In Principles of Semantic Networks. J.F. Sowa ed. Morgan Kaufmann.Google Scholar
  16. Zelinsky-Wibbelt, C. ed. 1993. The Semantics of Prepositions: Frome Mental Processing to Natural Language Processing. Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Almeida
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Maryland Eastern Shore Mathematics & Computer SciencePrincess Anne

Personalised recommendations