Two Types of Diagrammatic Inference Systems: Natural Deduction Style and Resolution Style
Since the 1990s, reasoning with Venn and Euler diagrams has been studied from mathematical and logical viewpoints. The standard approach to a formalization is a “region-based” approach, where a diagram is defined as a set of regions. An alternative is a “relation-based” approach, where a diagram is defined in terms of topological relations (inclusion and exclusion) between circles and points. We compare these two approaches from a proof-theoretical point of view. In general, diagrams correspond to formulas in symbolic logic, and diagram manipulations correspond to applications of inference rules in a certain logical system. From this perspective, we demonstrate the following correspondences. On the one hand, a diagram construed as a set of regions corresponds to a disjunctive normal form formula and the inference system based on such diagrams corresponds to a resolution calculus. On the other hand, a diagram construed as a set of topological relations corresponds to an implicational formula and the inference system based on such diagrams corresponds to a natural deduction system. Based on these correspondences, we discuss advantages and disadvantages of each framework.
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