On Eliminating Disjunctions in Stable Logic Programming

Thomas Eiter, Michael Fink, Hans Tompits, and Stefan Woltran

Disjunction is generally considered to add expressive power to logic programs under the stable model semantics, which have become a popular programming paradigm for knowledge representation and reasoning. However, disjunction is often not really needed, in that an equivalent program without disjunction can be given. In this paper, we consider the question, given a disjunctive logic program, P, under which conditions an equivalent normal (i.e., disjunction-free) logic program Q exists. In fact, we study this problem under different notions of equivalence, viz. for ordinary equivalence (considering the collections of all stable models of the programs) as well as for the more restrictive notions of strong and uniform equivalence. We resolve the issue for propositional programs on which we focus here, and present a simple, appealing semantic criterion from which all disjunctions can be eliminated under strong equivalence. Testing this criterion is coNP-complete, but the class of programs satisfying it has the same complexity as disjunctive logic programs in general. We also show that under ordinary and uniform equivalence, disjunctions can always be eliminated. In all cases, we give constructive methods to achieve this. However, we also provide evidence that disjunctive logic programs are a more succinct knowledge representation formalism than normal logic programs under all these notions of equivalence.

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