A Meta-Programming Technique for Debugging Answer-Set Programs

Martin Gebser, Jörg Pührer, Torsten Schaub, Hans Tompits

Answer-set programming (ASP) is widely recognised as a viable tool for declarative problem solving. However, there is currently a lack of tools for developing answer-set programs. In particular, providing tools for debugging answer-set programs has recently been identified as a crucial prerequisite for a wider acceptance of ASP. In this paper, we introduce a meta-programming technique for debugging in ASP. The basic question we address is why interpretations expected to be answer sets are not answer sets of the program to debug. We thus deal with finding semantical errors of programs. The explanations provided by our method are based on an intuitive scheme of errors that relies on a recent characterisation of the answer-set semantics. Furthermore, as we are using a meta-programming technique, debugging queries are expressed in terms of answer-set programs themselves, which has several benefits: For one, we can directly use ASP solvers for processing debugging queries. Indeed, our technique can easily be implemented, and we devised a corresponding prototype debugging system. Also, our approach respects the declarative nature of ASP, and the capabilities of the system can easily be extended to incorporate differing debugging features.

Subjects: 3.3 Nonmonotonic Reasoning; 11. Knowledge Representation

Submitted: Apr 15, 2008

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