Changing the Rules: A Comprehensive Approach to Theory Refinement

Dirk Ourston, Raymond J. Mooney

This paper presents a comprehensive approach to automatic theory refinement. In contrast to other systems, the approach is capable of modifying a theory which contains multiple faults and faults which occur at intermediate points in the theory. The approach uses explanations to focus the corrections to the theory, with the corrections being supplied by an inductive component. In this way, an attempt is made to preserve the structure of the original theory as much as possible. Because the approach begins with an approximate theory, learning an accurate theory takes fewer examples than a purely inductive system. The approach has application in expert system development, where an initial, approximate theory must be refined. The approach also applies at any point in the expert system lifecycle when the expert system generates incorrect results. The approach has been applied to the domain of molecular biology and shows significantly better results then a purely inductive learner.

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