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Declarative Operations on Nets

Harold Boley
DFKI, DFKI Research Reports (RR), Vol. 90-12, 1990.


To increase the expressiveness of knowledge representations, the graph-theoretical basis of semantic networks is reconsidered. Directed labeled graphs are generalized to directed recursive labelnode hypergraphs, which permit a most natural representation of multi-level structures and n-ary relationships. This net formalism is embedded into the relational/functional programming language RELFUN. Operations on (generalized) graphs are specified in a declarative fashion to enhance readability and maintainability. For this, nets are represented as nested RELFUN terms kept in a normal form by rules associated directly with their constructors. These rules rely on equational axioms postulated in the formal definition of the generalized graphs as a constructor algebra. Certain kinds of sharing in net diagrams are mirrored by binding common subterms to logical variables. A package of declarative transformations on net terms is developed. It includes generalized set operations, structure-reducing operations, and extended path searching. The generation of parts lists is given as an application in mechanical engineering. Finally, imperative net storage and retrieval operations are discussed.