CogSketch: Sketch Understanding for Cognitive Science Research and for Education


should be sent to Kenneth Forbus, Qualitative Reasoning Group, Northwestern University, 2133 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL, 60208. E-mail:


Sketching is a powerful means of working out and communicating ideas. Sketch understanding involves a combination of visual, spatial, and conceptual knowledge and reasoning, which makes it both challenging to model and potentially illuminating for cognitive science. This paper describes CogSketch, an ongoing effort of the NSF-funded Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, which is being developed both as a research instrument for cognitive science and as a platform for sketch-based educational software. We describe the idea of open-domain sketch understanding, the scientific hypotheses underlying CogSketch, and provide an overview of the models it employs, illustrated by simulation studies and ongoing experiments in creating sketch-based educational software.