Spatial reasoning in comparative analyses of physics diagrams

Maria D. Chang, Jon W. Wetzel, Kenneth D. Forbus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpatial Cognition IX - International Conference, Spatial Cognition 2014, Proceedings
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783319112145
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Spatial Cognition IX, Spatial Cognition 2014 - Bremen, Germany
Duration: Sep 15 2014Sep 19 2014

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume8684 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceInternational Conference on Spatial Cognition IX, Spatial Cognition 2014


  • Spatial reasoning
  • conceptual physics
  • diagrammatic reasoning
  • qualitative reasoning
  • spatial problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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