Knowledge-Base Reduction: A New Approach to Checking Knowledge Bases for Inconsistency and Redundancy

Allen Ginsberg

This paper presents a new approach, called knowledge-base reduction, to the problem of checking knowledge bases for inconsistency and redundancy. The algorithm presented here makes use of concepts and techniques that have recently been advocated by de Kleer [deKleer, 1986] in conjunction with an assumption-based truth maintenance system. Knowledge-base reduction is more comprehensive than previous approaches to this problem in that it can in principle detect all potential contradictions and redundancies that exist in knowledge bases (having expressive power equivalent to propositional logic). While any approach that makes such a guarantee must be computationally intractable in the worst case, experience with KB-Reducer -- a system that implements a specialized version of knowledge-base reduction and is described in this paper -- has demonstrated that this technique is feasible and effective for fairly complex "real world" knowledge bases. Although KB-Reducer is currently intended for use by expert system developers, it is also a first step in the direction of providing safe "local end-user modifiability" for distant "sites" in a nationwide network of expert systems.

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