The Language of Search

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This paper is concerned with a class of algorithms that perform exhaustive search on propositional knowledge bases. We show that each of these algorithms defines and generates a propositional language. Specifically, we show that the trace of a search can be interpreted as a combinational circuit, and a search algorithm then defines a propositional language consisting of circuits that are generated across all possible executions of the algorithm. In particular, we show that several versions of exhaustive DPLL search correspond to such well-known languages as FBDD, OBDD, and a precisely-defined subset of d-DNNF. By thus mapping search algorithms to propositional languages, we provide a uniform and practical framework in which successful search techniques can be harnessed for compilation of knowledge into various languages of interest, and a new methodology whereby the power and limitations of search algorithms can be understood by looking up the tractability and succinctness of the corresponding propositional languages.

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