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17.12  Simulating the Delay-Primitives of other Systems

It is relatively easy to simulate similar constructs from other systems by using delay clauses, for example, MU-Prolog’s sound negation predicate ∼/1 can be in ECLiPSe simply implemented as

delay ~ X if nonground(X).
~ X :- \+ X .

MU-Prolog’s wait declarations can be in most cases simulated using delay clauses. Although it is not possible to convert all wait declarations to delay clauses, in the real life examples this can usually be achieved. The block declarations of SICStus Prolog can be easily expressed as delay clauses with var/1 and nonground/1 conditions. The freeze/2 predicate (e.g., from SICStus Prolog, same as geler/2 in Prolog-II) can be expressed as

delay freeze(X, _) if var(X).
freeze(_, Goal) :- call(Goal).

The transcription of “when declarations” from NU-Prolog basically involves negating them: for instance, the when declarations

?- flatten([], _) when ever.
?- flatten(A._, _) when A.

can be rewritten as

delay flatten(A, _) if var(A).
delay flatten([A|_], _) if var(A).

Note that in contrast to when declarations, there are no syntactic restrictions on the head of a delay clause, in particular, it can contain any compound terms and repeated variables. In the clause body, a delay clause allows more flexibility by supporting programming with (a subset of) built-ins. In general, it is a matter of taste whether specifying delay-conditions or execute-conditions is more straightforward. However, the semantics of delay clauses is certainly more intuitive in that missing delay clauses simply imply no delay, while missing when-declarations imply a most general when ever declaration.


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