CogSketch: Sketch understanding for cognitive science research and for education

Kenneth Forbus, Jeffrey Usher, Andrew Lovett, Kate Lockwood, Jon Wetzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Sketching is a powerful means of working out and communicating ideas. Sketch understanding involves a combination of visual, spatial, and conceptual knowledge and reasoning, which makes it both challenging to model and potentially illuminating for cognitive science. This paper describes CogSketch, an ongoing effort of the NSF-funded Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, which is being developed both as a research instrument for cognitive science and as a platform for sketch-based educational software. We describe the idea of open-domain sketch understanding, the scientific hypotheses underlying CogSketch, and provide an overview of the models it employs, illustrated by simulation studies and ongoing experiments in creating sketch-based educational software.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-666
Number of pages19
JournalTopics in Cognitive Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Analogy
  • Cognitive simulation
  • Qualitative reasoning
  • Sketch understanding
  • Spatial cognition
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Visual reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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