Information and Computation

A logic for reasoning about probabilities

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We consider a language for reasoning about probability which allows us to make statements such as "the probability of E1 is less than 1 3" and "the probability of E1 is at least twice the probability of E2," where E1 and E2 are arbitrary events. We consider the case where all events are measurable (i.e., represent measurable sets) and the more general case, which is also of interest in practice, where they may not be measurable. The measurable case is essentially a formalization of (the propositional fragment of) Nilsson's probabilistic logic. As we show elsewhere, the general (nonmeasurable) case corresponds precisely to replacing probability measures by Dempster-Shafer belief functions. In both cases, we provide a complete axiomatization and show that the problem of deciding satisfiability is NP-complete, no worse than that of propositional logic. As a tool for proving our complete axiomatizations, we give a complete axiomatization for reasoning about Boolean combinations of linear inequalities, which is of independent interest. This proof and others make crucial use of results from the theory of linear programming. We then extend the language to allow reasoning about conditional probability and show that the resulting logic is decidable and completely axiomatizable, by making use of the theory of real closed fields. © 1990.


01 Jan 1990


Information and Computation