This book is the outgrowth of an effort to provide a course covering the general topic of uncertain inference. Philosophy students have long lacked a treatment of inductive logic that was acceptable; in fact, many professional philosophers would deny that there was any such thing and would replace it with a study of probability. Yet, there seems to many to be something more traditional than the shifting sands of subjective probabilities that is worth studying. Students of computer science may encounter a wide variety of ways of treating uncertainty and uncertain inference, ranging from nonmonotonic logic to probability to belief functions to fuzzy logic. All of these approaches are discussed in their own terms, but it is rare for their relations and interconnections to be explored. Cognitive science students learn early that the processes by which people make inferences are not quite like the formal logic processes that they study in philosophy, but they often have little exposure to the variety of ideas developed in philosophy and computer science. Much of the uncertain inference of science is statistical inference, but statistics rarely enter directly into the treatment of uncertainty to which any of these three groups of students are exposed.
At what level should such a course be taught? Because a broad and interdisciplinary understanding of uncertainty seemed to be just as lacking among graduate students as among undergraduates, and because without assuming some formal background all that could be accomplished would be rather superficial, the course was developed for upper-level undergraduates and beginning graduate students in these three disciplines. The original goal was to develop a course that would serve all of these groups.
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