Help on Asimov.



To get information from Asimov, ask questions.

Asimov can answer questions.
Asimov is best with short and simple questions, with correct grammar.
For example, you can try asking these questions :
What is a laser?
Who invented the transistor?
Who discovered Pluto?
When was Sedna discovered?
What color is Mars?
How hot is Mars?
Is Pluto a planet?

In this website, a ">" symbol followed by bold black text shows text typed in by a human.  
Replies by Asimov are shown in normal text.
For example, here is a transcript of a short session with Asimov :

> What is the capital of Greece?
Athens is a capital of Greece. 

> What is an android ?
androids/1 are automatons/2. 

You can also enter "Define android".

> Define android.
"Android" used as a noun has these senses :
android/1 :  android, humanoid, mechanical_man.   :  An automaton that resembles a human being. is at


Questions of the form "What is X?" are often answered with a lot of facts. 
This form of question is answered using most of the facts that Asimov knows which concern X.
This is a very useful form of question.

You may find that sometimes "What is X?" causes too many facts to be shown.
You may not want all of these facts.  In this case, you can use "Describe X" or "List Xs" instead.

Instead of "What is a planet?", you may prefer to ask Asimov to "Describe planets" or to "List planets".
These are more precise than "What is a planet?".
> Describe planets.
planet/1 are celestial_body/1. 
planet/2 are follower/1. 

> List planets
Venus is a planet. 
Mercury is a planet. 
Earth is a planet. 
Mars is a planet. 
Jupiter is a planet. 
Saturn is a planet. 
Neptune is a planet. 
Uranus is a planet. 
Pluto is a planet. 
Sedna is a planet. 

asteroid/1 are planet/1. 
superior_planet/1 are planet/1. 
terrestrial_planet/1 are planet/1. 
morning_star/1 are planet/1. 
evening_star/1 are planet/1. 


Thats the end of the section on how to get facts out of Asimov.
The rest of this page is about how to tell facts to Asimov.

Asimov depends on volunteers to tell it facts, because it uses these facts when answering questions.  To add facts to Asimov, just type them in, using plain English.  Asimov will remember them.  Asimov will accumulate facts typed in by users from all over the world.  At least, that is our plan.

How to add facts to Asimov.

To add information to Asimov, tell it facts.
Please only tell Asimov things that are true.

Using single statements.

You can tell Asimov useful facts by typing in one sentence at a time.
Its a good idea to type in a sentence then test it by asking a suitable question.

> Is Plato a Greek?  
No, Plato is not a Greek.

> Plato is a Greek.

> Is Plato a Greek ?
Yes, Plato is a Greek.

> Zorba is a Greek.

> Describe Zorba .
Zorba is a Greek.


Asimov can only understand statements which are short and simple.
Also, Asimov can only understand statements that are grammatically correct.

If it doesn't understand a statement, then try using a simpler statement instead.

Using multiple statements.

You can also type in more than one sentence, in a single line. 
Sentences entered in this way are treated differently to single sentences.
We call a set of statements that are entered in this way a "paragraph".

If you type in sentences together, as a paragraph, then when Asimov uses one of those sentences to answer a question, it will write the whole paragraph.
> Pluto was discovered in 1955.  Sedna was discovered in 2004.  Sedna is cold.
Sentence 1 :  
Sentence 2 :
Sentence 3 :
I already know that Sedna is cold.

> When was Pluto discovered?
{Pluto was discovered in 1955.}  Sedna was discovered in 2004.  Sedna is cold.


This way, you can make Asimov give related facts, whenever it writes the fact "Pluto was discovered in 1955".

The curly brackets around a fact indicate that this fact has been found to be a suitable answer to the question.  The other sentences don't directly answer the question, but these sentences were entered together, so they will be written together.

Which sentence has the curly brackets round it depends on the question.

> When was Pluto discovered?
{Pluto was discovered in 1955.}  Sedna was discovered in 2004.  Sedna is cold.

> When was Sedna discovered?
Pluto was discovered in 1955.  {Sedna was discovered in 2004.}  Sedna is cold.


It always writes the whole set of sentences, even if Asimov finds some of them to be incomprehensible.  This can be useful.

If you want to tell Asimov a fact, and Asimov can't understand it, then you can enter it at the same time as a fact that Asimov can understand.
These facts can work together.
Like this :

> Sedna was first discovered with a ground-based telescope.
Sorry, sentence not understood at all.

> Sedna was discovered in 2004.  Sedna was first discovered with a ground-based telescope.
Sentence 1 :
Sentence 2 :
Sorry, sentence not understood at all.

> When was Sedna discovered ?
{Sedna was discovered in 2004.}  Sedna was first discovered with a ground-based telescope.


Its OK if Asimov says "Sorry, sentence not understood at all", thats nothing to worry about.
It just needs to understand one of the sentences that you typed in together.

You need to think about what question a person may ask.  In the example above, the question was " When was Sedna discovered?", and the facts entered were chosen to answer this question.
You will need to choose one fact that Asimov can find when it tries to answer the question.
In the example above, the fact chosen was "Sedna was discovered in 2004".

Asimov can also use this fact whenever similar questions are asked.
The fact will be found when anyone asks " Who discovered Sedna?" or " What was discovered in 2004?", or " What was discovered?" or " What was done in 2004?".   This fact will be written when any of these questions are asked.
When you type in the main fact, you can combine it with anything else that you want to say at the same time.  Say things that are relevant to the question you have in mind.

Its a good idea to say a bit more about Sedna.  Use the verb "to be", to say what sedna is.  This will increase the number of questions will call up the fact "Sedna was discovered in 2004".
Like this :
> Sedna is a heavenly body.


Now these additional questions can call up the other facts about Sedna :

When was a heavenly body discovered?
Who discovered a heavenly body?
What heavenly bodies were discovered after 1/1/1900 ?

Asimov as a teaching aid.

One of the applications of Asimov is to teach University students.

A teacher would prepare Asimov by entering paragraphs on the subject being taught.  The students would then access Asimov, and ask questions on the subject.  When a student reads a paragraph, this should make him think of further questions, which would call up further paragraphs.

The teacher could give the students a list of half a dozen questions that they can use to get started.  The students should be advised to keep to the subject.  They should avoid using off-topic questions.  For this to work, each paragraph has to be long enough for the student to be able to think of at least one further question.  

Asimov has a few command-words;
"Define", "Websters", and "Google".

Define X.   

This calls up one or more dictionary definitions of the word X.
Asimov finds these definitions in its built-in dictionary. 
(Its built-in dictionary is called "WordNet".)
> Define robot.
"Robot" used as a noun has these senses :
robot/1 :  automaton, robot, golem.  :  A mechanism that can move automatically. is at

After showing its dictionary entries, Asimov shows a link to an online dictionary, where you can read more definitions of the word if you wish to.  You can click on the link to go to that web page.  The web page shows definitions of "robot", for example.

Websters X.

"Websters X" causes Asimov to show a link to Websters online English dictionary. 
You can click on the link to go to a page showing a definition of the word X.
> Websters robot
Websters dictionary is at

Google X.

"Google X" causes Asimov to use the Google search engine, to search for X on the Web.
Asimov then displays a link to Google's page of results.

> Google robot
Google is at


You can also use more than one word after "Google".

> Google Japanese robot.
Google is at


Abbreviations for "Define", "Websters", and "Google".
You can use "D", "W", and "G" instead of "Define", "Websters", and "Google". 

This page is Copyright Martin Sondergaard, 2005.