On the Role of Coherence in Abductive Explanation

Hwee Tou Ng, Raymond J. Mooney

Abduction is an important inference process underlying much of human intelligent activities, including text understanding, plan recognition, disease diagnosis, and physical device diagnosis. In this paper, we describe some problems encountered using abduction to understand text, and present some solutions to overcome these problems. The solutions we propose center around the use of a different criterion, called explanatory coherence, as the primary measure to evaluate the quality of an explanation. In addition, explanatory coherence plays an important role in the construction of explanations, both in determining the appropriate level of specificity of a preferred explanation, and in guiding the heuristic search to efficiently compute explanations of sufficiently high quality.

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