Relevance in Belief Update

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Theofanis Aravanis


It has been pointed out by Katsuno and Mendelzon that the so-called AGM revision operators, defined by Alchourrón, Gärdenfors and Makinson, do not behave well in dynamically-changing applications. On that premise, Katsuno and Mendelzon formally characterized a different type of belief-change operators, typically referred to as KM update operators, which, to this date, constitute a benchmark in belief update. In this article, we show that there exist KM update operators that yield the same counter-intuitive results as any AGM revision operator. Against this non-satisfactory background, we prove that a translation of Parikh’s relevance-sensitive axiom (P), in the realm of belief update, suffices to block this liberal behaviour of KM update operators. It is shown, both axiomatically and semantically, that axiom (P) for belief update, essentially, encodes a type of relevance that acts at the possible-worlds level, in the context of which each possible world is locally modified, in the light of new information. Interestingly, relevance at the possible-worlds level is shown to be equivalent to a form of relevance that acts at the sentential level, by considering the building blocks of relevance to be the sentences of the language. Furthermore, we concretely demonstrate that Parikh’s notion of relevance in belief update can be regarded as (at least a partial) solution to the frame, ramification and qualification problems, encountered in dynamically-changing worlds. Last but not least, a whole new class of well-behaved, relevance-sensitive KM update operators is introduced, which generalize Forbus’ update operator and are perfectly-suited for real-world implementations.

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