From Computing with Numbers to Computing with Words: From Manipulation of Measurements to Manipulation of Perceptions

  • Lotfi A. Zadeh
Part of the Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing book series (STUDFUZZ, volume 94)


Computing, in its usual sense, is centered on manipulation of numbers and symbols. In contrast, computing with words, or CW for short, is a methodology in which the objects of computation are words and propositions drawn from a natural language, e.g., small, large, far, heavy, not very likely,the price of gas is low and declining,Berkeley is near San Francisco, it is very unlikely that there will be a significant increase in the price of oil in the near future, etc. Computing with words is inspired by the remarkable human capability to perform a wide variety of physical and mental tasks without any measurements and any computations. Familiar examples of such tasks are parking a car, driving in heavy traffic, playing golf, riding a bicycle, understanding speech and summarizing a story. Underlying this remarkable capability is the brain’s crucial ability to manipulate perceptions — perceptions of distance, size, weight, color, speed, time, direction, force, number, truth, likelihood and other characteristics of physical and mental objects. Manipulation of perceptions plays a key role in human recognition, decision and execution processes. As a methodology, computing with words provides a foundation for a computational theory of perceptions — a theory which may have an important bearing on how humans make — and machines might make — perception-based rational decisions in an environment of imprecision, uncertainty and partial truth.


Natural Language Fuzzy Logic Fuzzy Number Possibility Distribution Fuzzy Graph 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  • Lotfi A. Zadeh

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