Dynamic Tractable Reasoning: A Modular Approach to Belief Revision

Series: Synthese Library (420)

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This book lays bare the logical foundations of tractable reasoning. It draws on Marvin Minsky's seminal work on frames, which has been highly influential in computer science and, to a lesser extent, in cognitive science. Only very few people have explored ideas about frames in logic, which is why the investigation in this book is quite innovative. The apparent intractability of dynamic, inferential reasoning is an unsolved problem in both cognitive science and logic-oriented artificial intelligence. It is a major objection to the computational theory of mind and the language-of-thought hypothesis. However, the problem is not bound to these two hypotheses, because as soon as we acknowledge that human minds engage in drawing inferences, we face the problem of computational and cognitive feasibility. By means of a logical investigation of frames and frame concepts, the author devises a novel logic of tractable reasoning, called frame logic. The tractability results about this logic shed new light on our logical and cognitive means to carry out dynamic, inferential reasoning. Modularity remains central for tractability, and so the author sets forth a logical variant of the massive modularity hypothesis in cognitive science.