On redundant topological constraints

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Artificial Intelligence, 2015, 225 pp. 51 - 76
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Redundancy checking is an important task in the research of knowledge representation and reasoning. In this paper, we consider redundant qualitative constraints. For a set Γ of qualitative constraints, we say a constraint (xRy) in Γ is redundant if it is entailed by the rest of Γ. A prime subnetwork of Γ is a subset of Γ which contains no redundant constraints and has the same solution set as Γ. It is natural to ask how to compute such a prime subnetwork, and when it is unique. We show that this problem is in general intractable, but becomes tractable if Γ is over a tractable subalgebra S of a qualitative calculus. Furthermore, if S is a subalgebra of the Region Connection Calculus RCC8 in which weak composition distributes over nonempty intersections, then Γ has a unique prime subnetwork, which can be obtained in cubic time by removing all redundant constraints simultaneously from Γ. As a by-product, we show that any path-consistent network over such a distributive subalgebra is minimal and globally consistent in a qualitative sense. A thorough empirical analysis of the prime subnetwork upon real geographical data sets demonstrates the approach is able to identify significantly more redundant constraints than previously proposed algorithms, especially in constraint networks with larger proportions of partial overlap relations.
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