Resolving Ambiguity in Nonmonotonic Inheritance Hierarchies

Unknown author (1991-08-01)

This paper describes a theory of inheritance theories. We present an original theory of inheritance in nonmonotonic hierarchies. The structures on which this theory is based delineate a framework that subsumes most inheritance theories in the literature, providing a new foundation for inheritance. * Our path-based theory is sound and complete w.r.t. a direct model-theoretic semantics. * Both the credulous and the skeptical conclusions of this theory are polynomial-time computable. * We prove that true skeptical inheritance is not contained in the language of path-based inheritance. Because our techniques are modular w.r.t. the definition of specificity, they generalize to provide a unified framework for a broad class of inheritance theories. By describing multiple inheritance theories in the same "language" of credulous extensions, we make principled comparisons rather than the ad-hoc examination of specific examples makes up most of the comparative inheritance work.