Using Constraints to Model Disjunctions in Rule-Based Reasoning

Bing Liu, Joxan Jaffar

Rule-based systems have long been widely used for building expert systems to perform practical knowledge intensive tasks. One important issue that has not been addressed satisfactorily is the disjunction, and this significantly limits their problem solving power. In this paper, we show that some important types of disjunction can be modeled with Constraint Satisfaction Problem (CSP) techniques, employing their simple representation schemes and efticient algorithms. A key idea is that disjunctions are represented as constraint variables, relations among disjunctions are represented as constraints, and rule chaining is integrated with constraint solving. In this integration, a constraint variable or a constraint is regarded as a special fact, and rules can be written with constraints and information about constraints. Chaining of rules may trigger constraint propagation, and constraint propagation may cause firing of rules. A prototype system (called CFR) based on this idea has been implemented.

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