Commonsense knowledge extraction and curation

Seminar, 7 ECTS credits, winter semester 2020–21

Basic Information

  • Type: Seminar
  • Teacher: Simon Razniewski (lecturer)
  • Credits: 7 ECTS credits
  • Registration: Via
  • Covid: Course participation is possible both offline (preferred), but also online-only.
  • Topic Description: Commonsense knowledge (CSK) is critical for building versatile intelligent applications. In delineation from encyclopedic knowledge, which is centered on named entities like Trump, Paris, or FC Barcelona, commonsense is used to refer to properties, traits and relations between general concepts, such as elephants, universities, or painters. Machine-readable collections of CSK are crucial to enable question answering and natural conversation about the world, e.g., by enabling the agent to proactively communicate, identify likely answers, and detect implausible statements and conditions. In this seminar we will study foundational and recent topics around commonsense knowledge extraction and consolidation.

The seminar is a block seminar and will take place on two consecutive days in winter 2021. There will also be two meetings at the beginning of the semester, for which participation is mandatory.


  1. A psychological view on commonsense knowledge
  2. Modelling commonsense and generics
  3. Time and causality
  4. Quantitative and comparative knowledge
  5. Social stereotypes and biases
  6. Commonsense explanations
  7. Physical commonsense
  8. Noun compounds

(own topic suggestions are welcome as well!)

Tentative timeline

  • October 30: Participant selection
  • November 5, 10am-12: "Introduction to commonsense" lecture, location E1 4 room 024 and virtual via Zoom (choice up to participants) - slides
  • November 12, 10am-12: "Seminar survival skills" lecture + 1st deliverable due + topic assignment, location E1 4 room 024 and virtual via Zoom (choice up to participants)
  • December 14, 8am: 2nd deliverable due + create metadata in Easychair
  • December 14-18: Meetings with advisor
  • January 14: 3rd deliverable due + submit bids for reviewing other papers in Easychair
  • January 28: 4th deliverable due
  • February 11: 5th deliverable due
  • March 4: Block seminar presentations


There will be a total of 6 deliverables. To pass the course, all have to be submitted on time. Percentages in brackets denote contribution to final grade.

  1. ~2 page writeup on short open questions (5%)
  2. Outline of report (5%)
  3. Report 1st revision (0%)*
  4. Reviews on two other reports (10%)
  5. Reports 2nd revision (40%)
  6. Presentation (40%)

* 1st revision is not graded, but the prime chance to obtain feedback from advisor and peers.