TEACH RESOLVEEXERCISE Chris Mellish 1984
A PROLOG EXERCISE: THEOREM PROVING
(NB: How to use the Prolog library. To load something from the library,
use the predicate 'library' with the name of the library file as its
argument, eg.
?- library(resolve1).
To look at a library file, make sure that you have Prolog loaded and
use the SHOWLIB command to VED:
showlib resolve1
To copy such a file to your directory, use SHOWLIB and then
name
The Prolog library files RESOLVE1 and RESOLVE2 contain the basis for
some simple theorem provers. Both of these work on the resolution
principle and both assume that clauses are represented in the form given
in TEACH * RESOLUTION. The Prolog library file CLAUSIFY provides a
predicate 'clausify' which converts expressions into clauses from a
Predicate Calculus format. You may want to use this to input your facts
to the theorem provers.
RESOLVE1 is very much a first stab at a resolution theorem prover, using
the most immediate way one might think of expressing resolution in
Prolog. It does, however, avoid some of the problems of depth first
search, and it has a crude (and incorrect) loop detection mechanism.
RESOLVE2 uses a refinement of resolution called LINEAR INPUT RESOLUTION,
which involves working backwards from the theorem to be proved in a way
that is reminiscent of Prolog.
The minimal requirement for this exercise is to copy one of the files
into your own directories, and annotate the program with a full
explanation of how it works. I must point out that these simple theorem
provers are not COMPLETE (in the sense defined in TEACH * RESOLUTION).
In particular, RESOLVE2 fails to be complete in two ways:
a) Since it uses a depth first search strategy, there must be some way
to prevent infinitely deep searches. This program won't search deeper
than an arbitrary five or six levels.
b) More seriously, it is incapable of making the following inference:
Herlock Sholmes, the world-famous deductive, notices that the ground
next to a water-butt containing the body is wet. He infers the following
fact:
1) Either it has just rained or else the water-butt has recently
been emptied.
Further investigation reveals that, as well as containing a body, the
water-butt is fairly full of rainwater. Herlock now infers:
2) Either it has just rained or else the water-butt has not
recently been emptied.
Combining facts 1 and 2, Herlock is able to deduce that it has just
rained. This deduction is easy to make using resolution: represent facts
1 and 2 as:
fact [rained,emptied].
fact [rained,#emptied].
The simple theorem prover RESOLVE2 is unable to complete the inference
though: try tracing it (by spying on selected predicates) with the
following question:
?-prove(rained).
A first exercise is to modify RESOLVE2 so that it can take an arbitrary
formula as the goal to be proved. A more than minimal exercise is to
improve this theorem prover in any of the following ways. Some examples:
a) Both theorem provers are incredibly slow (try spying on them).
Heuristics could be incorporated to speed them up. The most obvious is
to modify them so that they use the shortest facts first.
b) Instead of an arbitrary limit on the depth of search, alternative
checks could be used. A fairly good idea (but fairly hard) is to keep a
list of all the goals and subgoals that the theorem prover is currently
working on, and only fail if it attempts a new subgoal identical to one
it either has already tried, or is currently in the middle of. (Of
course it would succeed, not fail, if it attempted a subgoal it has
previously succeeded on.) Incidentally, to compare a subgoal with
another is slightly non-trivial if they contain variables, and you don't
want to 'unify' them (i.e. make them match by giving values to
variables).
c) Modify it to cope with the Herlock Sholmes example.
d) Write an extension allowing a simple natural language interface. This
would not be too hard for a very restricted grammar, e.g sentences like:
A dog is a mammal.
See also TEACH * RESOLUTION
For further reading see:
A. Ramsay and R. Barrett
AI In Practice: Examples in POP-11
Ellis-Horwood 1987
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