Robinson, J. A.

"A Machine-Oriented Logic Based on the Resolution Principle"

  • First publication of the resolution principle, the standard of logical deduction in AI applications.

    The basic computational method in logic programming, the unification algorithm, was proposed by mathematician Jacques Herbrand in 1930, but its first practical use was not discovered until Robinson introduced it in this paper as the basic operation of his resolution principle. “Robinson described his resolution principle as ‘machine-oriented’ in that it was particularly suitable for proofs to be performed by computer, having only one rule of inference that could be applied many times. Robinson’s resolution has since been used as the standard of logical deduction in AI applications” (Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace 865).

    “Born in Halifax, England, and having served in the RAF, [Robinson] attended Cambridge University, where he read classics. He received his master's degree in philosophy from the University of Oregon and his doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University in 1956. His interests thereafter focused on computers and logic. In 1963, as a visitor from Rice University in Texas to the Argonne National Laboratories, he became interested in automated reasoning, and in 1963 invented Resolution and Unification. In 1967 he became the Distinguished University Professor at Syracuse University and later Visiting Professor at Edinburgh University in Scotland.” (New York Times obituary).

    Bibliography: Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace 865.

  • [in] Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery, volume 12, number 1, pages 23-41. Baltimore, MD: The Association for Computing Machinery, 1965. Quarto. Original cream wrappers printed in black. Remnants of a mailing label to the upper wrapper. Just a little rubbed and creased. Excellent condition.

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