AAAI Fall Symposium on
Anchoring Symbols to Sensor Data
in Single and Multiple Robot Systems

Call for Participation


The focus of this symposium is on the connection between abstract- and physical-level representations of objects in autonomous robotic systems. We call "anchoring" the process of creating, and maintaining in time, this connection. Anchoring can thus be seen as a special case of symbol grounding where the symbols denote physical objects.

Anchoring must necessarily occur in any physically embedded system that comprises a symbolic reasoning component. A typical example is the problem of connecting, inside an autonomous robot, the symbol used by a symbolic planner to refer to a physical object to the data in a perceptual system that pertains to the same object. This connection must be dynamic, since the same symbol must be connected to new percepts when the same object is re-acquired. For instance, a robot may be asked to identify and track a specific person in a crowd using visual data and given a linguistic description.

Anchoring must also occur in a multiple robot system whenever the robots exchange information via symbolic representations. We talk in this case of "grounded communication." A typical example is the problem of establishing the correspondence between the symbols used by two different robots embedded in the same physical environment to refer to the same physical object. In RoboCup, for instance, knowledge about the objects in the domain may need to be exchanged between robots. Grounded communication is also needed for efficient human-robot cooperation.


The main preoccupation of this symposium is a practical one. Although all existing robotics systems that comprise a symbolic reasoning component implicitly incorporate a solution to the anchoring problem, this solution is typical hidden in the code, and it is developed on a system by system basis on a restricted domain. The ambition of this symposium is to create an interdisciplinary community that will develop a general theory of anchoring. In particular, we are interested in unveiling the computational aspects of anchoring, including the functionalities and representations needed to perform it. We believe that having such a theory will greatly advance our ability to build intelligent embedded systems, and to transfer techniques and results between different systems.

The symposium will be of interest to researchers in artificial intelligence, robotics, intelligent control, and image processing, as well as those interested in cognitive psychology, ethology, philosophy, and linguistics.


Topics of interest to this symposium include, but are not limited to:


Potential participants are invited to submit either one of the following electronically to

A full paper:
up to 8 pages reporting work in progress or fully finished work;
A short paper:
up to 2 pages summarizing recent work, proposing questions to be discussed at the symposium, or stating a position with respect to the symposium themes;
A statement of interest:
a short bio plus a paragraph describing the participant's interest in this symposium.

The symposium welcomes both contributions with a theoretical flavor and with an applied flavor, and will strive to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of anchoring. We particularly welcome contributions that propose general principles and functionalities for anchoring; that analyze how anchoring is achieved in specific (natural or artificial) systems; and that discuss the similarities and differences between anchoring and related notions, such as symbol grounding, pattern recognition, state estimation, data association, etc.

Working notes will be distributed at the symposium. After the symposium, we will consider the possibility of editing a book, or a special issue of a journal, reporting the outcomes of the symposium and including selected work by the symposium participants.

Important Dates

  March 30, 2001 Submissions due
  May 4, 2001 Notification of acceptance
  August 24, 2001 Camera ready papers due
  September 7, 2001 Registration due
  October 1, 2001 Hotel reservation
  November 2-4, 2001 Symposium days



Silvia Coradeschi
Alessandro Saffiotti
  Dept of Technology, University of Örebro
Fakultetsgatan 1, S-70182 Örebro, Sweden
Tel: +46 (19) 30-3390
Fax: +46 (19) 30-3463

Organizing Committee

Kurt Konolige   SRI International
Benjamin Kuipers   Univ. of Texas at Austin
Yves Lesperance   York University, Canada
Maja Mataric   Univ. of Southern California
Luc Steels   Free Univ. of Brussels, Belgium


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Last updated on Aug 17, 2001