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Modal logics offer natural, declarative representations for describing both the modular structure of logical specifications and the attitudes and behaviors of agents. The results of this paper further the goal of building practical, efficient reasoning systems using modal logics. The key problem in modal deduction is reasoning about the world in a model (or scope in a proof) at which an inference rule is applied—a potentially hard problem. This paper investigates the use of partial-order mechanisms to maintain constraints on the application of modal rules in proof search in restricted languages. The main result is a simple, incremental polynomial-time algorithm to correctly order rules in proof trees for combinations of K, K4, T and S4 necessity operators governed by a variety of interactions, assuming an encoding of negation using a scoped constant ┴. This contrasts with previous equational unification methods, which have exponential performance in general because they simply guess among possible intercalations of modal operators. The new, fast algorithm is appropriate for use in a wide variety of applications of modal logic, from planning to logic programming.
Date Posted: 26 August 2006