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Procedural knowledge

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Procedural knowledge or know-how is the knowledge of how to perform some task.

Know-how is different from other kinds of knowledge such as propositional knowledge in that it can be directly applied to a task. Procedural knowledge about solving problems differs from propositional knowledge about problem solving.

One limitation of procedural knowledge is its job-dependence; thus it tends to be less general than propositional knowledge. For example, a computer expert might have knowledge about a computer algorithm in multiple languages, or in pseudo-code, whereas a Visual Basic programmer might only know about a specific implementation of that algorithm, written in Visual Basic. Thus the 'hands-on' expertise and experience of the Visual Basic programmer might be of commercial value only to Microsoft job-shops, for example.

One advantage of procedural knowledge is that it can involve more senses, such as hands-on experience, practice at solving problems, understanding of the limitations of a specific solution, etc. Thus know-how can frequently eclipse theory.

Procedural knowledge in cognitive psychology

In cognitive psychology, the term procedural knowledge denotes knowledge of how to accomplish a task, and often pertains to knowledge which unlike declarative knowledge cannot be easily articulated by the individual, or knowledge that is nonconscious. For example, most individuals can easily recognize a specific face as "attractive" or a specific joke as "funny," but they cannot explain how exactly they arrived at that conclusion or they cannot provide a working definition of "attractiveness" or being "funny." Research by a cognitive psychologist Pawel Lewicki has demonstrated that procedural knowledge can be acquired by nonconscious processing of information about covariations.

Procedural knowledge in artificial intelligence

In artificial intelligence, procedural knowledge is one type of knowledge that can be possessed by an intelligent agent. Such knowledge is often represented as a partial or complete finite-state machine or computer program. A well-known example is the Procedural Reasoning System, which might, in the case of a mobile robot that navigates in a building, contain procedures such as "navigate to a room" or "plan a path". In contrast, an AI system based on declarative knowledge might just contain a map of the building, together with information about the basic actions that can be done by the robot (like moving forward, turning, and stopping), and leave it to a domain-independent planning algorithm to discover how to use those actions to achieve the agent's goals.

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