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UBC CS TR-82-01 Summary

Representing Techniques in Computer System Design \& Load Control, March 1982 Robert Ernest Mercer and Raymond Reiter

This paper is a first step towards the computation of an inference based on \underline{language use}, termed \underline{presupposition}. Natural languages, unlike formal languages, can be \underline{semantically ambiguous}. These ambiguities are resolved according to \underline{pragmatic rules}. We take the position that presuppositions are inferences generated from these pragmatic rules. Presuppositions are then used to generate the \underline{preferred interpretation} of the ambiguous natural language sentence. A preferred interpretation can be circumvented by an explicit inconsistency. This paper discusses the appropriateness of using \underline{default rules} (Reiter(1980)) to represent certain common examples of presupposition in natural language. We believe that default rules are not only appropriate for representing presuppositions, but also provide a formal explanation for a precursory consistency-based presuppositional theory (Gazdar(1979)).

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