Induction in AI
Workshop, Nagoya, August, 1997
Peter A. Flach and Antonis
Over twenty researchers participated in
this IJCAI'97 workshop to dicuss the general relationship of abduction and induction. The
main aim of the workshop was set out to address the issue of the relation and integration
of Abduction and Induction in the context of (practical) AI problems. This focus was
summarized by the following questions:
* What (if anything) distinguishes/characterizes each form of reasoning and their
corresponding computational models?
* How can we characterize different prototypical AI tasks for which it is
appropriate to use one of these two forms of reasoning?
* How can Abduction and Induction be integrated in the context of Artificial
Intelligence problems? For example,
- How do we learn abductive theories?
- How do we use abduction in machine
The workshop's organising committee
consisted of Peter Flach (then at Tilburg University, Netherlands), Antonis Kakas
(University of Cyprus), Raymond Mooney (University of Texas at Austin, USA) and Chiaki
Sakama (Wakayama University, Japan). The submitted papers were reviewed and selected by a
program committee additionally including Randy Goebel (University of Alberta, Canada),
Katsumi Inoue (Kobe University, Japan) and John Josephson (Ohio State University, USA).
The workshop assumed the same format as the the preceding ECAI'96 workshop on Abductive
and Inductive Reasoning , devoting ample time to plenary discussions.
However, this workshop had a different
emphasis from its predecessor, which indicates that a certain amount of progress has been
made. Whereas the discusson at the ECAI'96 workshop revolved almost exclusively around the
question whether and how abduction and induction are different forms of reasoning, the
discussion at the IJCAI'97 workshop took, for most of its part, a more practical stance,
concentrating on how to integrate them within an Artificial Intelligence context. Among
the 12 accepted papers the program committee selected 9 for presentation at the workshop.
The presentations were evenly divided over 3 sessions, addressing the issues pertaining to
the integration of abduction and induction in a bottom-up fashion starting from specific
practical problem of their integration and ending up with theoretical issues. These
sessions are reviewed in more detail below.
Invited talk: David Poole
David Poole (Universiy of British
Columbia, Canada) gave an invited talk entitled Learning, Bayesian Probability,
Graphical Models, and Abduction. In his talk he tried to tie together logic and
probabilistic approaches to induction in terms of belief networks and probabilistic Horn
abduction. Belief (Bayesian) networks are a graphical representation of independence and
provide a way to structure knowledge and to exploit the structure for computational gain.
Poole pointed out the relationship between belief networks and logic-based (abductive)
representations for evidential reasoning. If we want to do evidential reasoning (from
effects to causes) without knowing the underlying process, there is a choice between
causal modelling (learning cause * effect rules) and evidential modelling
(learning effect*cause rules); we can model causally and use
abduction for evidential reasoning (as do abductive diagnosis and belief networks) or
model evidentially and use deduction for evidential reasoning (as in neural networks and
consistency-based diagnosis). Poole overviewed the tradeoffs in this choice.
One of the most interesting aspects of
Poole's talk was that it approached the issue of abduction vs.induction from both a
probabilistic and a logical perspective. For instance, he argued that Bayesian
conditioning (the kind of evidential reasoning done in Bayesian networks to find causes
for observed effects) can be seen as abduction in probabilistic logic programs, where we
try to explain the evidence conditioning on all the knowledge obtained since the knowledge
base was built. He also provided a view of Bayesian
learning as essentially abductive, where the abductive step is finding the right parameter
values. From this viewpoint, then, the conclusion that there is no essential difference
between abduction and induction seems inescapable.
In his conclusion, Poole argued that
the logical and the probabilistic approaches can learn from each other. Bayesians have
good methods to handle noise and avoid overfitting, a universal method for finding
explanations (conditioning), and good algorithms for exploiting sparse structures. They
lack however the rich representations used by the logicians.
Discussion panel 1: Abduction and
Chiaki Sakama (Wakayama University,
Japan) discussed ways to use abduction in the process of induction. If a clause can
only entail an example by adopting an abductive explanation, a generalisation is obtained
by dropping the abducible from the clause. Conversely, a knowledge base that entails a
negative example can be specialised by weakening the causes for the entailment by
disjoining them with new abnormality abducibles.
Takashi Kanai and Susumu Kunifuji
(Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) proposed a new integrated method of
inductive generalisation and abductive reasoning . Abduction is used to supplement
incomplete background knowledge. The approach is a variant of FOIL , including an
improved information gain heuristic to deal with the cost of abductive explanations.
Akihiro Yamamoto (visiting Technische
Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany; now at Hoikkaido University, Japan) made a connection
between inductive hypothesis formation and proof procedures for consequence finding. The
proof procedure is a special case of SOL-resolution , extending SLD-resolution by
allowing to skip the proof of selected subgoals, adding them to an abductive explanation
instead. This is then related to Muggleton's inverse entailment operator .
The papers in this session essentially
concentrated on abduction as a tool in the learning process. Immediate questions are then
when this is needed or appropriate, and how it can be done. The ability to extend
imperfect background knowledge abductively was generally found to be useful, as domain
theories are often incomplete in practice. One can go one step further and argue that also
the learned hypothesis will in general be incomplete (i.e. nonmonotonic) to some extent,
in which case we are not just using but learning abductive theories. This obviates
the need for learning not only classification rules but also integrity constraints, which
are needed in abductive logic programming to constrain the possible explanations.
Presumably having an abductive coverage relation also influences the generality structure
of the hypothesis space, and may have a profound impact on the learning algorithm.
Finally, there should be a reasonable trade-off between treating a wrongly covered
negative example as an exception vs. revising the hypothesis.
Discussion panel 2: Abduction and
Induction -- their relation and integration
Raymond Mooney (University of Texas at
Austin, USA) presented an overview of work on the integration of abduction and
induction in machine learning systems that his group has been doing over the last years.
He argued that each inference can strengthen the other and presented practical
applications to support this. In particular, he showed how abductive reasoning can be
useful in inductively revising existing knowledge bases by finding appropriate places of
"repair'' of the knowledge base. Also he showed how inductive learning can be used to
form theories for abductive reasoning.
Akinori Abe (NTT Communication Science
Laboratories, Japan)  observed that abduction and induction can be seen as dual to each
other and can be linked together when we are in a situation of similar observations.
Abductive explanations for similar observations can form suitable data for inductive
generalization. He presented a framework for Analogical Abductive Reasoning and showed how
when this is applied to similar observations its generated hypotheses can form good
examples for generalization.
Pinar Ozturk (Norwegian University of
Science and Technology) was unfortunately unable to attend the workshop and present her
The second discussion complemented in
some sense the first one by considering ways in which induction could be useful in
abduction. One interesting possibility would be to abductively explain several
observations seperately, and then to inductively generalise them into a single
explanation. In this way we are extending the capabilities of an abduction system by
generating explanations that are non-ground rules. From the induction perspective we are
learning rules for non-observed predicates, which points at a link with descriptive
induction. An important issue that came up was whether the fact that induction typically
requires many observations whereas abduction proceeds from a single or few observations is
at all relevant. A number of people supported the intuition that abduction deals with
incomplete knowledge regarding a single situation, whereas induction extends
incomplete knowledge about a class of situations. Others objected by pointing at
the difficulty of defining the notion of a situation in a non-syntactic way.
Discussion panel 3: Unifying
abduction and induction
Geert-Jan Kruijff (Charles University,
Czech Republic)  pointed out the importance of novelty in abductive reasoning and
argued that this forms an important criterion for comparing the two forms of reasoning.
Furthermore, he distinguished the two schools of "unification'' and
"cooperation'' for the relation of abduction and induction and argued for the latter.
In particular, he argued that induction can lend further credibility to abductive
Peter Grunwald (CWI, the Netherlands)
 argued that probability can provide a conceptual unification for the two inferences.
The difference lies in the ontology of the output of the inference: abduction generates
data while induction generates hypotheses (in the statistical sense). He showed how the
Minimum Description Length Principle, which is frequently used as a heuristic in inductive
learning, is also appropriate for abductive reasoning, thus supporting the claim that the
two forms of reasoning can be unified under probability.
Pei Wang (Indiana University, USA) was
unfortunately unable to attend the workshop and present his paper .
One issue that came up in the third
discussion was that induction seems to do a better job in assigning credibility to
hypotheses. This is not just because induction is typically based on many observations,
but also because inductive hypotheses allow us to make predictions about unseen cases and
verify them by cross-validation. Some participants argued against this by pointing out
that also abductive hypotheses can have additional consequences that can be verified.
Related discussion topics were whether and how we can use induction to increase the
credibility of abductive hypotheses, and whether the selection criteria really differ for
abductive and inductive hypotheses.
While the preceding ECAI'96 workshop
was successful in bringing people from different disciplines together and identifying some
of the main general issues, this IJCAI'97 workshop approached the issue of integrating
abduction and induction from a more practical AI perspective. The main conclusion to be
drawn from these two workshops is that whether one perceives abduction and induction as
two of a kind or as fundamentally different reasoning forms depends strongly on the domain
of application and the particular AI approach employed. Hence, an appropriate question to
ask is not "What is the relation between abduction and induction'', but rather
"What are good reasons for perceiving them as fundamentally different or
fundamentally similar?'' The successor workshop to be organised at ECAI'98 will take this
more relativistic perspective as its starting point.
Another way in which this workshop
differed from its predecessor is that several participants (e.g.Poole and Grunwald)
approached the issue from a probabilistic perspective. The debate between logical and
symbolic approaches is an important one because, as Poole pointed out, both can profit
from the other's expertise. The discussions at the workshop tentatively suggested that
from the probabilistic viewpoint there is no essential difference between abduction and
induction. However, one must keep in mind that logical approaches tend to concentrate on
hypothesis formation, while probabilistic approaches are concerned with evaluation and
selection of hypotheses. It may very well be that the evaluation process is the same for
abduction and induction (and indeed for any other form of reasoning), while the formation
process is different in each case.
Our experience with both of these
worskhops has shown that it is premature to expect universally agreed positions on these
difficult issues. Nevertheless, one generally accepted conclusion of this workshop was
that, if we perceive abduction and induction as separate inferences, these can be
integrated in a cycle of knowledge generation governed by the `equation' B U H ? O
where H is the new knowledge generated. On one side of the cycle this new knowledge
then feeds in the place of O and on the other side it feeds in the place of B. Depending
on where we break this cycle we identify the separate inferences of abduction and
induction: abduction generating new elements for O and induction for B. This
then raises the important question of how can one inference be used to justify (or affect
the selection of) the hypotheses generated by the other inference.
The workshop notes contain 12 short
papers and are available on-line through the workshop's WWW-pages (
This workshop has been made possible by
financial support from the European Network of Excellence CompulogNet. Writing of this
report has been partially supported by the Esprit Long Term Research Project 20237
(Inductive Logic Programming 2).
 Akinori Abe, 'The relation between
abductive hypotheses and inductive hypotheses', Proc. IJCAI'97 Workshop on Abduction
and Induction in AI, pp. 1-6.
 John Bell, 'Inductive, abductive
and pragmatic reasoning', IJCAI'97 Workshop on Abduction and Induction in AI, pp.
 Philippe Codognet, 'Abductive
reasoning: backward and forward', Proc. IJCAI'97 Workshop on Abduction and Induction in
AI, pp. 13-16.
 Randy Goebel, 'Abduction and its
relation to constrained induction', Proc. IJCAI'97 Workshop on Abduction and Induction
in AI, pp. 17-18.
 Peter Grunwald, 'The Minimum
Description Length principle and non-deductive inference', Proc. IJCAI'97 Workshop on
Abduction and Induction in AI, pp. 19-23.
 Takashi Kanai & Susumu
Kunifuji, 'Extending inductive generalisation with abduction', Proc. IJCAI'97 Workshop
on Abduction and Induction in AI, pp. 25-30.
 Geert-Jan Kruijff, 'Concerning
logics of abduction -- on integrating abduction and induction', Proc. IJCAI'97 Workshop
on Abduction and Induction in AI , pp. 31-36.
 Raymond Mooney, 'Integrating
abduction and induction in Machine Learning', Proc. IJCAI '97 Workshop on Abduction and
Induction in AI, pp. 37-42.
 Pinar Ozturk, 'An AI criterion for
an account of inference: how to realize a task', Proc. IJCAI'97 Workshop on Abduction
and Induction in AI, pp. 43-48.
 Chiaki Sakama, 'Inductive
extension of abduction', Proc. IJCAI'97 Workshop on Abduction and Induction in AI,
 Pei Wang, 'Return to term logic', Proc.
IJCAI '97 Workshop on Abduction and Induction in AI, pp. 53-57.
 Akihiro Yamamoto, `Representing
inductive inference with SOLD-resolution', Proc. IJCAI'97 Workshop on Abduction and
Induction in AI, pp. 59-63.
 Peter Flach & Antonis Kakas,
`Abductive and Inductive Reasoning: report of the ECAI'96 workshop', Logic Journal of
the IGPL 5(5):773-778, 1997.
 Ross Quinlan, 'Learning logical
definitions from relations', Machine Learning 5(3):239-266, 1990.
 Katsumi Inoue, 'Linear resolution
for consequence finding', Artificial Intelligence 56:301-353, 1992.
 Stephen Muggleton, 'Inverse
entailment and Progol', New Generation Computing 13:245-286, 1995.
Peter A. Flach
Dept. of Computer Science,
University of Bristol
Merchant Venturers Building, Woodland
Bristol BS8 1UB, United Kingdom
Dept. of Computer Science,
University of Cyprus
POBox 537, CY-1678 Nicosia, Cyprus