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The paper presents a computational model for a context-dependent analysis of a physical environment in terms of spatial proximity. The model provides a basis for grounding linguistic analyses of spatial expressions in visual perception. The model uses potential fields to model spatial proximity. It has been implemented, and when combined with a handcrafted grammar, is used to enable a conversational robot to carry out a situated dialogue with a human. The key concept in our approach is defining the region that is proximal to a landmark based on the spatial configuration of other objects in the scene. The model extends existing approaches to proximity by including object salience (visual, discourse) and interference effects between multiple objects that could act as landmarks. Theoretically, the model can help motivate the choice between topological and projective prepositions, and provides a basis for defining regions with vague spatial extent.
Kelleher, J and Kruijff, G. (2005) A context-dependent model of proximity in physically situated environments, 2nd ACL-SIGSEM Workshop on The Linguistic Dimensions of Prepositions and their Use in Computational Linguistics Formalisms and Applications, Colchester, UK, April 2005.