Computing Least Common Subsumers in Description Logics

William W. Cohen, Alex Borgida, Haym Hirsh

Description logics are a popular formalism for knowledge representation and reasoning. This paper introduces a new operation for description logics: computing the "least common subsumer" of a pair of descriptions. This operation computes the largest set of commonalities between two descriptions. After arguing for the usefulness of this operation, we analyze it by relating computation of the least common subsumer to the well-understood problem of testing subsumption; a close connection is shown in the restricted case of "structural subsumption". We also present a method for computing the least common subsumer of "attribute chain equalities", and analyze the tractability of computing the least common subsumer of a set of descriptions -an important operation in inductive learning.

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