Knowledge Science and Engineering

Making India's Traditional Knowledge Accessible and Intelligible

One of the primary areas of Research at Vedavaapi is to develop paradigms to model the Bharatiya Gyaan Parampara (India’s knowledge Traditions) using modern techniques and tools.

Knowledge Representation techniques from Mathematics, Logic, Symbolic Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and other disciplines of contemporary Sciences and Engineering need to be leveraged in innovative ways to represent and model Bharatiya Gyaan. A modern audience should in principle, be able to access this knowledge more intuitively.

This, we feel, will open up ways to creatively access and explore Bharatiya knowledge, via tools and applications. This will also make it easier for exploring technology development for contemporary use-cases which require access to authentic Bharatiya Gyaan.

The focus of research is broad and goal driven. Three focused centers comprise the Knowledge Science and Engineering Research track.

  1. Bharatiya Knowledge Network Center
  2. Center for Shaastric Knowledge Modeling
  3. Center for Models and Knowledge Engineering

Bharatiya Knowledge Network Center

The Bharatiya Knowledge Network Center brings together efforts from shastra knowledge representation, shaastric modeling , shaastric knowledge engineering , ontology building to build comprehensive knowledge networks which span different shaastras and shaastra modeling paradigms.

Approaching Bharatiya Shaastras as Scientific Models

The function of a Bharatiya shaastra is similar to modern science, namely, to characterize a real-world system / phenomenon (विषयः / लक्ष्यम्) by devising a finite set of sound properties (लक्षणानि) for serving a purpose (फलम्) – namely, to explain, predict and control the system / phenomenon so as to benefit someone (अधिकारी) in a way that no other shaastra does.

Model-based Reasoning – The Method of Science

Model-based reasoning is the hallmark of contemporary science. The purpose of science is to study a real-world system / phenomenon to explain why it is the way it is, predict how it will be under in hypothetical conditions and control it to benefit someone. The subject matter of a scientific discipline is the system it studies. Examples include the human system, society, nation, politics, matter, energy, life etc. The method of science is to gather unbounded observations about a system using human senses or their extension tools and augment them with logical inference to arrive at a compact representation of the system, called its model or theory. A model describes the system in terms of a finite set of synthesized properties or categories called its taxonomy. A model makes the system amenable to logical reasoning by reducing its complexity to a manageable level. The closer a model is to the principles (or tattva) governing the system, the more accurately it can help explain, predict and control the system. The validity of a model can be established based on its coverage, namely, how many real-world observations it can represent with what accuracy.

Diagram

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Models can be synthesized in three ways – top-down, bottom-up and hybrid. A bottom-up model starts with the observations and looks for recurring patterns from which to categorize them into finite classes. This is the data-driven method where machine-learning and AI helps. A top-down model postulates a theory or logical structure that captures the essential nature of the system / phenomenon and tests it with live observations. A hybrid model, in addition, has the facility to refine the representation based on real-world observed data.

Research Paradigm

Vedavaapi and the MIT School of Vedic Sciences offer a training course (initiated in October 2021) on how to approach Bharatiya shaastras to extract key universal concepts from their original contextual presentation to reinterpret them for modern needs. The aim is to transform shaastrajnas (knowers) into shaastrakaaras (creators) by imparting the following new skills to spur innovative shaastra-based contributions to the world’s knowledge.

  • Shaastra Mapping
    • How to study Bharatiya texts from a conceptual (तात्त्विक) perspective?
    • How to paraphrase a Bharatiya text as a mindmap network of concepts and relations for rapid assimilation?
    • How does Nyaaya shaastra knowledge help in grasping Bharatiya texts?
  • Shaastra Mining
    • How to use mindmaps of Bharatiya texts to answer complex queries on their subject matter authentically? 
    • How to systematize knowledge extraction and mining across multiple texts?
  • Shaastric Modeling
    • How to study a contemporary western discipline from a shaastric perspective?
    • How to derive a new scientific model of a discipline out of shaastras for comparison with contemporary models/theories.
    • What are the different paradigms for model-building offered by the Indic tradition? How to choose the appropriate modeling paradigm for a discipline?

Center for Shaastric Knowledge Modeling

Knowledge Representation and Modeling paradigms exist in the Shaastra parampara. They need to be approached as such, and leveraged in the larger Knowledge Engineering Research efforts. The focus of this center is on exploring shaastric knowledge modeling paradigms , their applicability and their transformation to algorithmic understandings.

Modeling Disciplines and Bodies of Knowledge (BoK)

  • Vishaya: What is the system / organism studied?
  • Prayojana: What is the utility of the study?
    • To explain, predict and control the system for what purpose?
    • What is the metric of utility?
  • Adhikaari: Who will receive the utility?
  • Lakshanas: What are the key concepts / terms postulated to describe the system?
    • Concept can be a subsystem, property, action, state, a relation
  • How do they represent the system?
  • How is the utility captured in those terms?
  • dasha: What are the states of the system?
    • What is the criteria to assess the  desirability of those states?
  • Sambandhas: What are the relations among the concepts? How are the concepts related 
    • to each other
    • To the system under study
    • To the utility of study
  • Karma: What are the available transformative actions (degrees of freedom) to alter the system state? On which concepts?
  • How do the actions affect the states?
  • How to express a question about the system? E.g.,
    • What is keeping the system in state X
    • How will action A alter the system?
    • What action sequence will bring the system to state X? Why

Principal Modeling Paradigms from Shaastra

Structural (padArtha) view / depiction – Nyaaya-vaisheshika

Functional (karma) view – Mimaamsa

Evolutionary (pariNaama) view – Vyakarana

Manifestational (abhivyakti) view – Saankhya

This helps understand the prayojana siddhi of phenomena.


Center for Models and Knowledge Engineering

Once the structures of knowledge representation are coherent and verified, they become amenable to model building using the tools of technology. Converting the representations to algorithmic models , prepare the ground, for application oriented software implementations of these models. Moving from an algorithmic understanding to first class computable models is a very important focus area given Vedavaapi’s goals. This center focuses on the Computational Modeling and Knowledge Engineering aspects of both shaastric and modern paradigms. Models from both Bharatiya parampara as well as contemporary modern models of disciplines / phenomena are in scope.

V-shishta : A Shaastra driven expert system

The V-shishta system , aims to build a query-able software platform, a question-answering system ( ex: like IBM’s Watson) , with a knowledge paradigm based on Shaastra gyaan. This is an iterative software development activity , and is an important way in which Vedavaaapi validates its research efforts and makes the research actionable and usable.

V-shisht Platform and Vedavaapi’s curated framework of the Bharatiya Gyaan parampara

Human modeling using Vedic Psychology

An important part of models and their use is the “Observer” or the “Subjects” involved , either as part of the phenomenon being modeled or as actors within larger contexts in which the model is being used, to reason with. Modeling human psychology using the vedic / bharatiya paradigm is an important focus area of research at this center.

Western Psychological Model in Indian terms

Hybrid integrative models are being envisaged, with the the controlling drishti being the Vedic. In our assessment, these efforts are needed , so that broader and deeper engagement with experts trained in contemporary psychology disciplines is easier.

Vedic Pancha Kosha Refinement to the
Western Psychological Model

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