Semantic-based logic representation and reasoning for automated regulatory compliance checking

Jiansong Zhang, Nora M. El-Gohary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Existing automated compliance checking (ACC) efforts are limited in their automation and reasoning capabilities; the state of the art in ACC still uses ad hoc reasoning schema/methods, with lack of support for complete automation in ACC reasoning. First-order logic (FOL) representation and reasoning can provide a generalized reasoning method to facilitate complete automation in ACC reasoning. This paper presents a new FOL-based information representation and compliance reasoning (IRep and CR) schema for representing and reasoning about regulatory information and design information for checking regulatory compliance of building designs. The schema formalizes the representation of regulatory information and design information in the form of semantic-based (ontology-based) logic clauses that could be directly used for automated compliance reasoning. Two alternative subschemas, following a closed-world assumption and an open-world assumption for noncompliance detection, respectively, were proposed and tested. The proposed IRep and CR schema was tested in representing and reasoning about quantitative regulatory requirements in Chapter 19 of the International Building Code 2009 and design information of a two-story duplex apartment test case in two ways, using perfect information and imperfect information. The closed-world assumption subschema was selected based on performance results; it achieved 100% recall and precision in noncompliance detection using perfect information and 98.7% recall and 87.6% precision in noncompliance detection using imperfect information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04016037
JournalJournal of Computing in Civil Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016



  • Automated compliance checking
  • Automated construction management systems
  • Automated reasoning
  • First-order logic
  • Logic programming
  • Semantic systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications

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