Certainty Closure: Reliable Constraint Reasoning with Incomplete or Erroneous Data


Yorke-Smith, N., & Gervet, C. (2009). Certainty closure: Reliable constraint reasoning with incomplete or erroneous data. ACM Transactions on Computational Logic (TOCL), 10(1), 1-41.


Constraint Programming (CP) has proved an effective paradigm to model and solve difficult combinatorial satisfaction and optimization problems from disparate domains. Many such problems arising from the commercial world are permeated by data uncertainty. Existing CP approaches that accommodate uncertainty are less suited to uncertainty arising due to incomplete and erroneous data, because they do not build reliable models and solutions guaranteed to address the user’s genuine problem as she perceives it. Other fields such as reliable computation offer combinations of models and associated methods to handle these types of uncertain data, but lack an expressive framework characterizing the resolution methodology independently of the model.

We present a unifying framework that extends the CP formalism in both model and solutions, to tackle ill-defined combinatorial problems with incomplete or erroneous data. The certainty closure framework brings together modeling and solving methodologies from different fields into the CP paradigm to provide reliable and efficient approches for uncertain constraint problems. We demonstrate the applicability of the framework on a case study in network diagnosis. We define resolution forms that give generic templates, and their associated operational semantics, to derive practical solution methods for reliable solutions.

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