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Pack narsese -- jmc/parameterize.md

Parameterizing Models of Propositional

Calculus Formulas

John McCarthy

Computer Science Department

Stanford University



December 24, 2003


It is often inadequate that a theory be consistent, i.e. have models.

It should have enough models. We discuss parameterizing the set of

models in the special case of propositional satisfiability.

A propositional formula π in variables p1, . . . , pn is called satisfiable if it

has a model, i.e. a tuple of truth values for p1, . . . , pn that makes π true.

Many programs exist for deciding this.

However, we can ask for more than just whether a formula has models;

we can ask about its set of models. One way to get a grip on the set of a

formula’s models is to parametrize it, i.e. to express the variables p1, . . . , pn of

the formula π as propositional expressions in other variables r1, . . . , rk, such

that arbitrary values of r1, . . . , rk give rise to exactly the values of p1, . . . , pn

satisfying π.

Here are some examples.

p2 = true.

• π = p1p2. this is a trivial case and the formulas are p1 = true and

• π = p1 ≡ p2. We have p1 = r1 and p2 = r1.

• π = p1 ∨ p2. We have p1 = r1 and p2 = ¯r1 ∨ ¯r2.

• π = true. We have p1 = r1 and p2 = r2.

• π = false. No model.

The number of parameters required depends on the number N of models

of π. Indeed it is ceiling(log2(N )), the least it could possibly be. Here’s how

to construct a parametrization.

Let π be written in disjunctive normal form. Choose enough variables

r1, . . . , rk, so that each conjunction is assigned one or more of the 2k con-

junctions of the ri and ¯ri. The assignment can be arbitrary provided each

conjunction of the pis gets a unique conjunction of the rjs. For each pi, we

write a conditional expression

if case 1 then tv 1

else if case 2 then tv 2


else if case 2k then tv 2k ,


where the cases are the r-conjunctions and the tv ’s are the truth values

that pi assumes in that case. The conditional expressions can be converted

to propositional expressions if desired, since all the consequents are truth



[We’ll use juxtaposition for conjunction to keep the formulas compact.]


π = (p1p2p3) ∨ (¯p1p2 ¯p3) ∨ (p1 ¯p2p3).


We need only 2 r variables. These give 4 cases. We can assign the cases

to the three terms of (2) arbitrarily, so let’s assign tt and tf to the first

conjunction of (2) and ft and ff to the two remaining conjunctions. We then


p1 = if r1r2 then t else if r1¯r2 then t else if ¯r1r2 then f else if ¯r1¯r2 then tp2 = if r1r2 then t else if r1¯r2 then t else if ¯r1r2 then t else if ¯r1¯r2 then fp3 = if r1r2 then t else if r1¯r2 then t else if ¯r1r2 then f else if ¯r1¯r2 then tRemarks:

  1. Presumably the above systematic procedure usually doesn’t give the optimal parametrization in terms of length of formula, although it is

    optimal in the number of r-variables.

  2. The parametrization is easy, because we have assumed that the the- ory is represented by an expression π in disjunctive normal form. If

    putting the theory in disjunctive normal form leads to an excessively

    long expression, the parametrization may be more difficult.

  3. There is no apparent way of turning a parameterization of the models of π into a parameterization of the models of ¬π.
  4. Parameterizing models of modal formulas may offer difficulties, because there will often be an infinity of models of even rather simple formulas.

    This will depend on the modal logic.

  5. Extending the idea to predicate calculus is likely to be reasonable only under some restrictions. Thus parameterizing the models of the axioms

    for a group is the problem of group classification with its hundred year

    history. However, Abelian groups are nicely parameterized.

  6. Perhaps monadic predicate calculus will be a good domain.
  7. Parameterizing the models of nonmonotonic theories may present in- teresting problems even in the propositional case. 2001 August.
  8. There may be straightforward ways of going from a parameterization of a theory to parameterizations of some kinds of elaborations of the

    theory. This may help with the problem of establishing consistency of

    the elaborated theory. Thus the mere fact of consistency of a theory

    may not help in establishing the consistency of an elaborated theory,

    but a parameterization of the theory may lead to consistency of the

    elaborated theory via its parameterization. - 2001 August.