Reasoning about Qualitative Temporal Information

Peter van Beek

Interval and point algebras have been proposed for representing qualitative temporal information about the relationships between pairs of intervals and pairs of points, respectively. In this paper, we address two related reasoning tasks that arise in these algebras: Given (possibly indefinite) knowledge of the relationships between some intervals or points, (1) find one or more scenarios that are consistent with the information provided, and (2) find all the feasible relations between every pair of intervals or points. Solutions to these problems have applications in natural language processing, planning, and a knowledge representation language. We define computationally efficient procedures for solving these tasks for the point algebra and for a corresponding subset of the interval algebra. Our algorithms are marked improvements over the previously known algorithms. We also show how the results for the point algebra aid in the design of a backtracking algorithm for the full interval algebra that is useful in practice.


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