What Makes an Effective Representation of Information: A Formal Account of Observational Advantages

Atsushi Shimojima
Doshisha University
Gem Stapleton
University of Brighton
In order to effectively communicate information, the choice of representation is important. Ideally, a chosen representation will aid readers in making desired inferences. In this paper, we develop the theory of observation: what it means for one statement to be observable from another. Using observability, we give a formal characterization of the observational advantages of one representation of information over another. By considering observational advantages, people will be able to make better informed choices of representations of information. To demonstrate the benefit of observation and observational advantages, we apply these concepts to set theory and Euler diagrams. In particular, we can show that Euler diagrams have significant observational advantages over set theory. This formally justifies Larkin and Simon’s claim that “a diagram is worth ten thousand words”.
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DOI 10.1007/s10849-017-9250-6
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Seeing and Knowing.Fred I. Dretske - 1969 - Mind 79 (314):281-287.
Operational Constraints in Diagrammatic Reasoning.Atsushi Shimojima - 1996 - In Gerard Allwein & Jon Barwise (eds.), Logical Reasoning with Diagrams. Oxford University Press.

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