Query Answering in Circumscriptive and Closed-World Theories

Teodor C. Przymusinski

Among various approaches to handling incomplete and negative information in knowledge representation systems based on predicate logic, McCarthy’s circumscription appears to be the most powerful. In this paper we describe a decidable algorithm to answer queries in circumscriptive theories. The algorithm is based on a modified version of ordered linear resolution, which constitutes a sound and complete procedure to determine whether there exists a minimal model satisfying a given formula. The Closed-World Assumption and its generalizations, GCWA and ECWA, can be considered as a special form of circumscription. Consequently, our method also applies to answering queries in theories using the Closed-World Assumption or its generalizations. For the sake of clarity, we restrict our attention to theories consisting of ground clauses. Our algorithm, however, has a natural extension to theories consisting of arbitrary clauses.

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