A Paper Abstract by Benjamin Grosof

Reformulating Non-Monotonic Theories for Inference and Updating (April 28 1992)

by Benjamin N. Grosof

Abstract: We aim to help build programs that do large-scale, expressive non-monotonic reasoning (NMR): especially, "learning agents" that store, and revise, a body of conclusions while continually acquiring new, possibly defeasible, premise beliefs. Currently available procedures for forward inference and belief revision are exhaustive, and thus impractical: they compute the entire non-monotonic theory, then re-compute from scratch upon updating with new axioms. These methods are thus badly intractable. In most theories of interest, even backward reasoning is combinatoric (at least NP-hard). Here, we give theoretical results for prioritized circumscription that show how to reformulate default theories so as to make forward inference be selective, as well as concurrent; and to restrict belief revision to a part of the theory. We elaborate a detailed divide-and-conquer strategy. We develop concepts of structure in NM theories, by showing how to reformulate them in a particular fashion: to be conjunctively decomposed into a collection of smaller "part" theories. We identify two well-behaved special cases that are easily recognized in terms of syntactic properties: disjoint appearances of predicates, and disjoint appearances of individuals (terms). As part of this, we also definitionally reformulate the global axioms, one by one, in addition to applying decomposition. We identify a broad class of prioritized default theories, generalizing default inheritance, for which our results especially bear fruit. For this asocially monadic class, decomposition permits reasoning to be localized to individuals (ground terms), and reduced to propositional. Our reformulation methods are implementable in polynomial time, and apply to several other NM formalisms beyond circumscription.
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