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3.7  More control structures

3.7.1  Disjunction

Disjunction is normally specified in Prolog by different clauses of a predicate, but it can also be specified within a single clause by the use of ;/2. For example,

atomic_particle(X) :- (X = proton ; X = neutron ; X = electron).

This is logically equivalent to:


3.7.2  Conditional

Conditionals can be specified using the ->/2 operator. In combination with ;/2, a conditional similar to ‘if-then-else’ constructs of conventional language can be constructed: X->Y;Z, where X, Y and Z can be one or more goals, means that if X is true, then Y will be executed, otherwise Z. Only the first solution of X is explored, so that on backtracking, no new solutions for X will be tried. In addition, if X succeeds, then the ‘else’ part, Z will never be tried. If X fails, then the ‘then’ part, Y, will never be tried. An example of ‘if-then-else’ is:

max(X,Y, Max) :- 
   number(X), number(Y),
   (X > Y -> Max = X ; Max = Y).

where Max is the bigger of the numbers X or Y. Note the use of the brackets to make the scope of the if-then-else clear and correct.

3.7.3  Call

One feature of Prolog is the equivalence of programs and data – both are represented as terms. The predicate call allows program terms (i.e. data) to be treated as goals: call(X) will cause X to be treated as a goal and executed. Although at the time when the predicate is executed, X has to be instantiated, it does not need to be instantiated (or even known) at compile time. For example, it would in principle be possible to define disjunction (;) as follows:

X ; Y :- call(X).
X ; Y :- call(Y).

3.7.4  All Solutions

In the pure computational model of Prolog, alternative solutions are computed one-by-one on backtracking. Only one solution is available at any time, while previous solutions disappear on backtracking:

?- weekday(X).
X = mo
X = tu
X = we

Sometimes it is useful to have all solution together in a list. This can be achieved by using one of the all-solutions predicates findall/3, setof/3 or bagof/3:

?- findall(X, weekday(X), List).
X = X
List = [mo, tu, we, th, fr, sa, su]
For the differences between findall/3, setof/3 and bagof/3 see the ECLiPSe Reference Manual.

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