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A transformation is a step in an inference in which a literal is replaced by another literal or conjunction of literals; it becomes the focal literal for which bindings are needed. These transformations occur based on a rule in the Cyc KB, relating the replaced literal to the replacing ones. For example, if we have this rule:

 (eatsWillingly ?PERSON Doughnut)
 (likesAsFriend HomerSimpson ?PERSON))

then, during inference search, this rule warrants transforming on the literal (replacing…)

(likesAsFriend HomerSimpson Bob)

in order to obtain as the focal literal (…with)

(eatsWillingly Bob Doughnut)

because if this holds (i.e. if Bob eats doughnuts willingly), then

(likesAsFriend HomerSimpson Bob)

must also be true.