Perception as Abduction

Turning Sensor Data into Meaningful Representation

Murray Shanahan


This paper presents a formal theory of robot perception as a form of abduction. The theory pins down the process whereby low-level sensor data is transformed into a symbolic representation of the external world, drawing together aspects such as incompleteness, top-down information flow, active perception, attention, and sensor fusion in a unifying framework. In addition, a number of themes are identified that are common to both the engineer concerned with developing a rigorous theory of perception like the one on offer here, and the philosopher of mind who is exercised by questions relating to mental representation and intentionality.