A Prolog-Like Inference System For Computing Minimum-Cost Abductive Explanations In Natural-Language Interpretation


Stickel, M. E. (1991). A Prolog-like inference system for computing minimum-cost abductive explanations in natural-language interpretation. Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence, 4(1), 89-105.


By determining what added assumptions would suffice to make the logical form of a sentence in natural language provable, abductive inference can be used in the interpretation of sentences to determine what information should be added to the listener’s knowledge, i.e., what he should learn from the sentence. This is a comparatively new application of mechanized abduction. A new form of abduction—least specific abduction—is proposed as being more appropriate to the task of interpreting natural language than the forms that have been used in the traditional diagnostic and design-synthesis applications of abduction. The assignment of numerical costs to axioms and assumable literals permits specification of preferences on different abductive explanations. A new Prolog-like inference system that computes abductive explanations and their costs is given. To facilitate the computation of minimum-cost explanations, the inference system, unlike others such as Prolog, is designed to avoid the repeated use of the same instance of an axiom or assumption.

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