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John McCarthy
Computer Science Department
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305

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The present note illustrates how logical formalizations of common sense knowledge and reasoning can achieve some of the open-endedness of human common sense reasoning. A plan is made to fly from Glasgow to Moscow and is shown by circumscription to lead to the traveller arriving in Moscow. Then a fact about an unexpected obstacle--the traveller losing his ticket--is added without changing any of the previous facts, and the original plan can no longer be shown to work if it must take into account the new fact. However, an altered plan that includes buying a replacement ticket can now be shown to work. The formalism used is a modification of one developed by Vladimir Lifschitz, and I have been informed that the modification isn't correct, and I should go back to Lifschitz's original formalism. April 14,2001: I still haven't done it, so this article has to be regarded as tentative. I hope to fix the problems without going back to Lifschitz's formalism, which I find awkward.

John McCarthy
Sat Apr 14 15:17:01 PDT 2001