The Semantic Clause Graph Procedure

Manfred Kerber

Seungyeob Choi

School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT, England


In this contribution we propose a variant of a resolution theorem prover which selects resolution steps based on the proportion of models a newly generated clause satisfies compared to all models given in a reference class, which is generated from a subset of the initial clause set. Since the empty clause does not satisfy any models preference is given to such clauses which satisfy few models only. In order to avoid premature convergence, model-guided steps are interleaved with random steps. Since computing the number of models is computationally expensive on the one hand, but will remain almost unchanged after the application of one single resolution step on the other hand, we adapt Kowalski's connection graph method to store the number of models at each link. We report on work in progress and are not yet able to present experimental results.

1.  Introduction

The connection graph proof procedure was first introduced by Kowalski [Kowalski75]. The main idea is to explicitly represent all resolution possibilities as links in a graph between literals, where the links store not only the applicability but additionally the most general unifier for the application. Independently of open theoretical questions (like completeness, see [Eisinger91]) the method has not attracted much attention in up-to-date resolution theorem provers since the computational overhead to explicitly represent the unifiers in a graph does not pay off compared to other techniques like indexing. In other words the graph is used to store information which can be more cheaply computed from first principles. In particular, the heuristic choice, on which link to resolve makes only marginally use of the links.

Some work has been done to integrate semantic information into resolution theorem proving. Slaney, Lusk, and McCune [SLM94] developed the Scott-system which combines the model generator Finder and the resolution theorem prover Otter. To speak in a simplified way, Scott extends the set-of-support strategy by the introduction of a semantic satisfiability check, which is based on iterated model generation. It could be shown that this approach makes a significant improvement for some examples. Chu and Plaisted [CP94] implemented a theorem prover using hyper-linking techniques [LP92] with the concept of the semantic guidance.

The main question in resolution theorem proving is which pair of literals to select for resolution (or for paramodulation or for factorisation). Optimal choices lead to shortest proofs. Since first-order logic is undecidable it seems to be obvious that there is no efficiently computable strategy which gets these choices right in all cases. However, recent years have seen significant progress in the solution of NP-hard problems by the combination of heuristically guided choices and random choices (see, e.g., [Gomes98] and also the recent special issue of the Journal of Automated Reasoning, Vol. 24, Nos.1-2, 2000). Our approach can be seen as an attempt to use a similar method in resolution theorem proving in which the heuristic guidance is provided by the cardinality of models of clauses. It first generates a number of models from the given theory, then it constructs a clause graph out of the set of all clauses, and finally searches for a proof by interleaving random selection and heuristic selection of a link. The heuristic selects the link that is most promising in the sense that a minimal number of models fulfils the offspring of a link.

2.  Clause Graph Procedure

The main idea of the connection graph procedure is to represent the set of clauses for a given problem as a graph in which each node represents a literal. These literal nodes are grouped together to form the clauses (since a clause is a disjunction of literals). Any two complementary unifiable literals are connected by a link, which represents the unification possibility.

1. Example of an Initial Clause Graph

2. Clause Graph After one Step

When we select a link, we apply the resolution rule by firstly removing the link, secondly creating the new clause which inherits literals from both ancestors, and thirdly insert the new links for this new clause, where the new links are a subset of the links of the parent clauses. For instance from the graph in Fig. 1 we obtain by resolving on the rightmost link the clause graph (unifiers not displayed) in Fig. 2. The clause graph contains two literals, R(x) and NOT  R(y), which do not have any links to other literals, they are so-called pure literals and the clauses inclusively all links from literals in these clauses can be removed from the clause graph, since they cannot have the empty clause among their successors. The removal of links can influence literal nodes in other clauses and some neighbouring clauses may be removed as well. In fact, an application of a resolution rule can cause a chain reaction of further reduction, which in extreme cases can lead to the collapse of the whole graph. In the latter case the original problem was satisfiable. This is the case for the graph in Fig. 2. Removing the two middle clauses which contain the pure literals results in the graph in Fig. 3.

3. Remove clauses with pure literals

This graph contains two more pure literals, hence the corresponding clause can be removed, leaving just the pure one-literal clause NOT  P(a), which can be removed as well.

3.  Model Generation and Semantically Guided Resolution

The semantics of a set of first-order formulae is specified by a pair M=(D,I) , consisting of a domain and an interpretation. The domain D is a nonempty set of objects, and the interpretation I is a mapping from the terms of the language to values in the domain, formulae are mapped to truth values. We say M is a model of a formula (or formula set) if the formula is (or all formulae in the formula set are) evaluated to true.

Assume we have a first-order problem given by a set Gamma and a theorem phi for which we want to show that phi follows from Gamma (i.e., Gamma |= phi ). Furthermore we assume that the formula set Gamma is consistent, that is, that it has models. In resolution theorem proving phi is negated and it is proved that Gamma union {NOT  phi } is unsatisfiable, that is, has no model.

For our procedure we make the standard assumption that the background theory Gamma is consistent. Hence it has a model. Furthermore the method as described below makes use of the assumption that there are finite models for Gamma (since we make use of a model generator which generates finite models). This is, however, an assumption that can be relaxed if we proceed to a model generator which can generate infinite models. Anyway, we think that the class of problems, for which finite models are sufficient, is rich enough that it deserves investigation.

Slaney's Finder system [Slaney94] is a model generator which fixes the domain to a specific number of objects and then performs an exhaustive search in the space of functions and constants which can be satisfied in that domain. We use Finder as a model generator to generate a set of models M = { M1, M2,... , Mn } from a formula set Gamma ={ phi 1, phi 2,... , phi m }.

Finder generates models by increasing the cardinality of the domain D . It is possible to give lower and upper bounds for the cardinality. We may either take all models found in a certain bound or limit the result to a certain number of models we are interested in. We will have to experiment which number of models should be considered best. 50-100 may be a typical number for n.

For instance look at the following problem (where P stands for parallel and Q for orthogonal. Since orthogonal is symmetric, parallel is as well.):
FORALL x FORALL y ( P(x,y)  <->  EXISTS z ( Q(x,z)  &  Q(z,y) )), FORALL x FORALL y ( Q(x,y)  ->  Q(y,x) )
|= FORALL x FORALL y ( P(x,y)  ->  P(y,x) )

To prove the consequence relation by resolution we assume the first set
Gamma = {(FORALL x FORALL y ( P(x,y)  <->  EXISTS z ( Q(x,z)  &  Q(z,y) )))  &  (FORALL x FORALL y ( Q(x,y)  ->  Q(y,x) )) } and negate the second part phi = FORALL x FORALL y ( P(x,y)  ->  P(y,x) ). By normalisation we get:

Gamma ' :   {NOT  P(x,y)  |  Q(x,f(x,y)),
  NOT  P(x,y)  |  Q(f(x,y),y),
  P(x,y)  |  NOT  Q(x,z)  |  NOT  Q(z,y),
  NOT  Q(x,y)  |  Q(y,x) }
NOT  phi ' :   { P(a,b),
  NOT  P(b,a) }

If we fix the interpretation domain to D = { 0,1 } , the models generated from Gamma ' are

Models   M1   M2   M3   M4   M5   M6   M7   M8   ...   M100   M101   M102   ...   M239   M240
P(0,0)   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   ...   T   T   T   ...   T   T
P(0,1)   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   ...   F   F   F   ...   T   T
P(1,0)   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   ...   F   F   F   ...   T   T
P(1,1)   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   ...   T   T   T   ...   T   T
Q(0,0)   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   ...   F   F   F   ...   T   T
Q(0,1)   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   ...   T   T   T   ...   T   T
Q(1,0)   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   ...   T   T   T   ...   T   T
Q(1,1)   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   F   ...   F   F   F   ...   T   T
f(0,0)   0   0   0   0   1   1   1   1   ...   1   1   1   ...   1   1
f(0,1)   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   ...   0   1   1   ...   1   1
f(1,0)   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   ...   0   0   0   ...   1   1
f(1,1)   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   ...   0   0   0   ...   1   1
a   0   0   1   1   0   0   1   1   ...   1   0   0   ...   1   1
b   0   1   0   1   0   1   0   1   ...   1   0   1   ...   0   1

The number of all models we have got is 240. The procedure is now set up to count for each possible step in the calculus (resolution, paramodulation, factorisation) how many interpretations in M are models of the resulting clause. The figure below shows the clause graph labelled with semantic information and the most promising link is the one between NOT  P(b,a) and P(x,y)  |  NOT  Q(x,z)  |  Q(z,y). (Be warned the numbers are not yet machine-generated, hence they have to be taken with particular care.)

4. Clause Graph with Semantic Information

When the link is resolved, a new clause NOT  Q(b,z)  |  NOT  Q(z,a) is created. The two literals are linked in the graph. The clause NOT  P(b,a) now has a pure literal which does not have any links and can be removed. We display only the number of models for the four newly generated links.

5. Clause Graph after One Step

Following a best-first search strategy, the resulting clause with the fewest models is the most promising since it makes the steepest step towards the empty clause which has no models at all. This simple form of best-first search is known to end often in local optima or plateaus. In phases of a plateau the heuristic measure is insignificant and does not tell what to do next. As a way out, a mixture of heuristically guided steps and random steps has successfully been applied in other application areas. That is, use in x% of the steps the heuristic guidance and in (100-x)% make a random choice, where 0<= x<= 100 will be fixed to 40, for instance.

In summary, our procedure is as follows. If we want to show Gamma |= phi with phi as theorem from which we generate the set of support, we first generate a set of models from Gamma with a model generator, concretely Finder. The next steps are to construct a clause graph from the set of clauses of Gamma union {NOT  phi } , applying resolution rules to all connected literals in the graph, producing resolvents, evaluating these in the set of models and counting the number of models in which each resolvent is true. We use the links in the clause graph to store the number of models (in order not to have to recompute them each in cycle). The selection of the link on which the next step is to be performed follows a heuristic which is based on the number of models in which the resolvent is true.

In pseudo code

INPUT:  Gamma    ;;; hypotheses
        phi    ;;; conclusion

M := GenerateModels( Gamma ); G := ConstructGraph( Gamma union {NOT  phi }); FOR EVERY L a link in G determine N number of models in M and insert Label(L,N); REPEAT Select(L,G); Res := Resolve(L); Insert(Res,G); FOR EVERY L is a link connected to Res determine N number of models in M and insert Label(L,N); Simplify UNTIL empty clause derived OR G empty

6. Pseudo Code for the Semantic Clause Graph Procedure

An abstract view of the data flow can be found as a flow chart in Fig. 7. The following is a rough description of the whole system. The most important parts are the model generator, the initialising procedure, and selection procedure. The model generator takes the input theory and generates models of it. The initialising procedure builds the initial clause graph with literal nodes and links; it calculates semantic plausibilities for all links and stores them in the links. The selection procedure chooses the links on which will be operated next.

7. Proving Procedure Flowchart

It is a well-known phenomenon that just following a best-first strategy can lead to local optima or plateaus and the global optimum (here, the empty clause with no models) may be missed out. Furthermore it must be left to experiments to see whether the models generated by Finder produce information which forms a good heuristic guidance. Even if that were true in general, it would not mean that there could not be phases in the proof search where the number of models either does not differ for different links or where there is a significant number of links with the same number attached (as in Fig. 5). In the first case, the procedure would not produce significant information, in the latter, it could not be used as a selection strategy, but as a restriction strategy only.

In order to avoid the problem with local optima and plateaus, we introduce a degree of randomness into the selection scheme. We want to test two different procedures. In the first approach we randomly select between a random choice and a best choice (select the link/a link with minimal number of models), where there can be an arbitrary bias towards random choice or best choice (see Fig. 8).

INPUT: BIAS ;;; bias towards best choice
       G    ;;; a clause graph

Randomise (n,100) ;;; select n randomly between 0 and 100 IF 0 <= n <= BIAS THEN link := RandomChoice(G) ELSE link := BestChoice(G) ENDIF; RETURN link

8. Heuristic Choice Procedure with Random Component

Alternatively we can choose links in a biased random way, where in each selection step the chances of a link to be selected is the smaller the bigger the number of associated models is. More concretely, let f(n) be a function that is strictly monotonously decreasing and always bigger than 0, for instance f(n)=1/n+1. For k links l1,... ,lk with number of models n1,... ,nk, respectively, the chances for link lm to be selected can then be computed as f(nm)/ f(n1)+...+f(nk)

We are currently implementing the whole procedure and want in particular to test the two selection procedures discussed above. An evaluation is still missing.

4.  Conclusion and Further Work

The performance of semantically guided resolution will probably depend to a great degree on the availability of good models. Whether the models generated by Finder are suitable or not has to be studied for different example classes. Semantic guidance seems to be a standard technique humans use when searching for proofs. Rather than generating models from scratch, they often use typical examples. It remains an open question whether and to which extent this is necessary in our context. It may also be important to use infinite models as investigated by Caferra and Peltier [CP98].

We are currently implementing our ideas and want to test the method when the implementation is completed. Our hope is that the two different approaches, the traditional clause graph resolution method and the model-based semantic guidance will combine well together. Furthermore we hope that the random element in the procedure will enable us to obtain a weak completeness result of the following form: Since every possible derivation will eventually be made (because of the random element), for any unsatisfiable clause set the probability that the empty clause is derived in n steps will converge towards one for n to infinity.


© 2000. Seungyeob Choi, Manfred Kerber
The URL of this page is
Also available as pdf ps.gz bib .