This thesis is concerned with aspects of a theory of machine perception. It is shown that a comprehensive theory is emerging from research in computer vision, natural language understanding, cognitive psychology, and Artificial Intelligence programming language technology. A number of aspects of machine perception are characterized. Perception is a recognition process which composes new descriptions of sensory experience in terms of stored steriotypical knowledge of the world. Perception requires both a schema-based formalism for the representation of knowledge and a model of the processes necessary for performing search and deduction on that representation. As an approach towards the development of a theory of machine perception, a computational model of recognition is presented. The similarity of the model to formal mechanisms in parsing theory is discussed. The recognition model integrates top-down, hypothesis-driven search with bottom-up, data-driven search in hierarchical schemata representations. Heuristic procedural methods are associated with particular schemata as models to guide their recognition. Multiple methods may be applied concurrently in both top-down and botton-up search modes. The implementation of the recognition model as an Artificial Intelligence programming language called MAYA is described. MAYA is a multiprocessing dialect of LISP that provides data structures for representing schemata networks and control structures for integrating top-down and bottom-up processing. A characteristic example from scene analysis, written in MAYA, is presented to illustrate the operation of the model and the utility of the programming language. A programming reference manual for MAYA is included. Finally, applications for both the recognition model and MAYA are discussed and some promising directions for future research proposed.
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