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This book has developed from a set of postgraduate lectures delivered at the University of Paris-Sud during the years 1983-1988. All the members of my research group at the 'Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique' helped me during the preparation of this text.




Without several European grants, and particularly the ESPRIT programme, I would never have had the possibility of creating such a group. In my group, I particularly thank Norbert Benamou, Jean-Jacques Cannât, Marta Franova, Jean-Gabriel Ganascia, Nicholas Graner, Michel Manago, Jean-Francois Puget, Jose Siquiera and Christel Vrain.





 Outside my group, Toni Bollinger, Christian de Sainte Marie and Gheorghe Tecuci were also very helpful. Special thanks are due to Ryszard Michalski who re-read Chapter 8 which concerns his own contribution to inductive machine learning. Special thanks are also due to my wife Marta. Besides the comfort she provides me as a wife, she is also a first-rate researcher and helps me a lot in my scientific




work in addition to doing her own. She entirely re-read this English version and found many mistakes that had been left in the original French version. This English edition has been produced by Stephen Thorp who read and understood most of it while translating it. He pointed out many of my ambiguous French ways of speaking so this edition may be easier to understand than the French one.

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