Detecting looping simplifications

  • Paul Walton PurdomJr.
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 256)


A generalization of tree matching and unification algorithms is presented. Given the equation s=t, this algorithm can often quickly determine that the rewrite rule st leads to an infinite sequence of “simplifications”. The rule ts can be tested in the same way. Rules leading to infinite simplifications should not be included in a rewrite system. In general, the problem of deciding whether a set of rewrite rules leads to infinite simplifications is undecidable. The algorithm that is used for this problem is a cross between a unification algorithm for terms with overlapping variables and a matching algorithm. In the simplest case it attempts to find α, σ M and σ U such that σ M σ U =σ U t/a. In other words, is there a substitution σ U such that in the rule σ U sσ U t the left side matches a subpart of the right side. The same basic algorithm can be used to test more complex cases of looping involving the interaction of several rules, but it is limited to those cases where each application of a rule occurs inside of the previous rule application. Experiments suggest that the simplest form of the algorithm is about 80 percent effective in eliminating bad orientations of rules. The algorithm never rules out a good orientation of a rule, and so it is most useful when one wants to consider all possible rule orientations.


Knuth-Bendix Looping Matching Rewrite rules Simplification Unification 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Walton PurdomJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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