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3.2  Library Predicates

3.2.1  Domain constraints

Vars :: Domain
Constrains Vars to take only integer or real values from the domain specified by Domain. Vars may be a variable or a collection of variables ( la collection_to_list/2). Domain can be specified as a simple range Lo .. Hi, or as a list of subranges and/or individual elements. Multiple subranges and/or individual elements are allowed in integer domains only. If all subrange bounds and individual elements are integers the domain is considered an integer domain and the variables Vars are constrained to be integral; otherwise it is considered a real domain and the type of the variables is not constrained. Also allowed are the (untyped) symbolic bound values inf, +inf and -inf.

::(Vars,Domain,Bool)


Provides a reified form of the ::/2 domain assignment predicate. This reified ::/3 is defined only to work for one variable and only integer variables (unlike ::/2), hence only the Domain formats suitable for integers may be supplied to this predicate.

For a single variable, V, the Bool will be instantiated to 0 if the current domain of V does not intersect with Domain. It will be instantiated to 1 iff the domain of V is wholly contained within Domain. Finally the Boolean will remain an integer variable in the range 0..1 if neither of the above two conditions hold.

Instantiating Bool to 1, will cause the constraint to behave exactly like ::/2. Instantiating Bool to 0 will cause Domain to be excluded from the domain of all the variables in Vars where such an exclusion is representable. If such an integer domain is unrepresentable (e.g. -1.0Inf .. -5, 5..1.0Inf), then a delayed goal will be setup to exclude values when the bounds become sufficiently narrow.

Note that calling the reified form of :: will result in the Variable becoming constrained to be integral, even if Bool is uninstantiated.

Further note that, like other reified predicates, :: can be used infix in an IC expression e.g. B #= (X :: [1..10]) is equivalent to ::(X, [1..10], B). See section 3.2.3 for more information of reified constraints.

Vars #:: Domain
Constrains Vars to take only integer values from the domain specified by Domain. Vars may be a variable or a collection of variables ( la collection_to_list/2). Domain can be specified as a simple range Lo .. Hi, or as a list of subranges and/or individual elements (integer variables only). Also allowed are the (untyped) symbolic bound values inf, +inf and -inf.

Vars $:: Domain
Constrains Vars to take real values from the domain specified by Domain. Vars may be a variable or a collection of variables ( la collection_to_list/2). Domain must represent one contiguous interval.

reals(Vars)
Declares that the given variables are IC variables.

integers(Vars)
Constrains the given variables to take integer values only.

3.2.2  Arithmetic constraints

Note that the integer forms of the constraints are essentially the same as the general forms, except that they check that all constants are integers and generally constrain all variables and subexpressions to be integral. Thus with integer constraints, the solver does very much behave like a traditional integer solver, with any temporary variables and intermediate results assumed to be integral. This means that it makes little sense to use many of the nonlinear functions available for use in expressions (e.g. sin, cos, ln, exp) in integer constraints. It also means that one should take care using such things as division: X/2 + Y/2 #= 1 and X + Y #= 2 are different constraints, with the former constraining X and Y to be even. That said, if all the constants and variables are integral already and the subexpressions clearly so as a consequence, then the integer (#) constraints and general ($) constraints may be used integerchangeably.
ExprX $= ExprY, ic:(ExprX =:= ExprY)
ExprX is equal to ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are general expressions.

ExprX $>= ExprY, ic:(ExprX >= ExprY)
ExprX is greater than or equal to ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are general expressions.

ExprX $=< ExprY, ic:(ExprX =< ExprY)
ExprX is less than or equal to ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are general expressions.

ExprX $> ExprY, ic:(ExprX > ExprY)
ExprX is strictly greater than ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are general expressions.

ExprX $< ExprY), ic:(ExprX < ExprY)
ExprX is strictly less than ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are general expressions.

ExprX $\= ExprY, ic:(ExprX =\= ExprY)
ExprX is not equal to ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are general expressions.

ExprX #= ExprY
ExprX is equal to ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are constrained to be integer expressions.

ExprX #>= ExprY
ExprX is greater than or equal to ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are constrained to be integer expressions.

ExprX #=< ExprY
ExprX is less than or equal to ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are constrained to be integer expressions.

ExprX #> ExprY
ExprX is greater than ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are constrained to be integer expressions.

ExprX #< ExprY
ExprX is less than ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are constrained to be integer expressions.

ExprX #\= ExprY
ExprX is not equal to ExprY. ExprX and ExprY are constrained to be integer expressions.

ac_eq(X, Y, C)
Arc-consistent implementation of X #= Y + C. X and Y are constrained to be integer variables and to have “reasonable” bounds. C must be an integer.
The comparison constraints =:=/2, >=/2, =</2 and =\=/2 have the same syntax as the standard ECLiPSe built-in comparison operators (and those of other constraint solvers). Unless explicitly qualified, the ECLiPSe built-ins are used. To use these constraints without the need to qualify them, use the alternative dollar-syntax.

3.2.3  Reified constraints

As mentioned earlier, when constraints appear in an expression context, then they evaluate to their reified truth value. Practically this means that the constraints are posted in a passive check but do not propagate mode, whereby no variable domains are modified but checks are made to see if the constraint has become entailed (necessarily true) or dis-entailed (necessarily false).

The simplest and arguably most natural way to reify a constraint is to place it in an expression context (i.e. on either side of a $=, $>=, #=, etc.) and assign its truth value to a variable. For example:
TruthValue #= (X $> 4).
It is also possible to use the 3 argument form of the constraint predicates where the third argument is the reified truth value, for example:
$>(X, 4, TruthValue).
But in general the previous form is recommended as it can be easily extended to handle the truth values of a combination of constraints, by using the infix operators and (logical conjunction), or (logical disjunction) and => (logical implication) or the prefix operator neg (logical negation). e.g.:
TruthValue #= (X $> 4 and Y $< 6).
Again, as mentioned earlier, there are a number of reified connectives which can be used to combine reified constraints using logical operations on their truth values.
and/2
Reified constraint conjunction. e.g. B #= (X $> 3 and X $< 8) or X $> 3 and X $< 8

or/2
Reified constraint disjunction. e.g. B #= (X $> 3 or X $< 8) or X $> 3 or X $< 8

=>/2
Reified constraint implication. e.g. B #= (X $> 3 => X $< 8) or X $> 3 => X $< 8

neg/1
Reified constraint negation. e.g. B #= (neg X $> 3) or neg X $> 3

Enforcing constraints

The logical truth value of a constraint, when reified, can be used to enforce the constraint (or its negation) during search.

The following three examples are equivalent:
X $> 4.
B #= (X $> 4), B=1.
B #= (X $=< 4), B=0.
By unifying the value of the reified truth value, the constraint changes from being passive to being active. Once actively true (or actively false) the constraint will prune domains as though it had been posted as a simple non-reified constraint.

User-defined reified constraints

Reified constraints are implemented using the the 3 argument form of the constraint predicate if it exists (and it does exist for the arithmetic relation constraints).

User-defined constraints will be treated as reifiable if they appear in an expression context and as such should provide forms where the last argument is the reified truth value reflected into a variable.

The user-defined constraint should behave as follows depending on the state of the reified variable.

Reified variable is unbound
When the reified variable is unbound, the constraint should not perform any domain reduction on its arguments, but should check to see if the constraint has become entailed or dis-entailed, setting the reified variable to 1 or 0 respectively.

Reified variable is bound to 0
In the event that the reified variable becomes bound to 0 then the constraint should actively propagate its negation.

Reified variable is bound to 1
In the event that the reified variable becomes bound to 1 then the constraint should actively propagate its normal semantics.

3.2.4  Miscellaneous constraints

alldifferent(Vars)
Constrains all elements of a list to be different from all other elements of the list.

element(Index, List, Value)
Constrains Value to be the Index'th element of the list of integers List.

3.2.5  Integer labeling predicates

These predicates can be used to enumerate solutions to a set of constraints over integer variables. For optimisation, see also the branch_and_bound library.
indomain(Var)
Instantiates an integer IC variable to an element of its domain.

labeling(Vars)
Instantiates all IC variables in a list to elements of their domains.

search(Vars, Arg, Select, Choice, Method, Options)
Instantiates the variables Vars by performing a search based on the parameters provided by the user.

3.2.6  Real domain refinement predicates

These predicates can be used to locate real solutions to a set of constraints. They are essentially the same as those that were available in RIA; more details of the algorithms used can be found in section 3.2.10.
locate(Vars, Precision)
Locate solution intervals for Vars by splitting and search. Precision indicates how accurate the intervals have to be (in absolute or relative terms) before splitting stops.

locate(Vars, Precision, LinLog)
As per locate/2, but LinLog specifies wither linear (lin) or logarithmic (log) splitting should be used. (locate/2 is equivalent to calling locate/3 with log as the third argument.)

locate(LocateVars, SquashVars, Precision, LinLog)
As per locate/3, but also applies the squashing algorithm to SquashVars both before splitting commences, and then again after each split.

squash(Vars, Precision, LinLog)
Refine the intervals of Vars by the squashing algorithm.

3.2.7  Variable query predicates

These predicates allow one to retrieve various properties of an IC variable (and usually work on ground numbers as well).
is_solver_var(Var)
Succeeds if an only if Var is an IC variable.

is_solver_type(Term)
Succeeds if an only if Term is an IC variable or a number.

get_solver_type(Var, Type)
Returns whether Var is an integer variable or a real variable.

get_bounds(Var, Lo, Hi)
Returns the current bounds of Var.

get_min(Var, Lo)
Returns the current lower bound of Var.

get_max(Var, Hi)
Returns the current upper bound of Var.

get_float_bounds(Var, Lo, Hi)
Returns the current bounds of Var as floats.

get_integer_bounds(Var, Lo, Hi)
Returns the current bounds of the integer variable Var (infinite bounds are returned as floats). Constrains Var to be integral if it isn't already.

get_finite_integer_bounds(Var, Lo, Hi)
Returns the current (finite) bounds of the integer variable Var. Constrains Var to be finite and integral if it isn't already.

get_domain_size(Var, Size)
Returns the number of elements in the IC domain for Var. Currently Var needs to be of type integer.

get_domain(Var, Domain)
Returns a ground representation of the current IC domain for Var.

get_domain_as_list(Var, Domain)
Returns a list of all the elements in the IC domain for Var. Currently Var needs to be of type integer.

get_median(Var, Median)
Returns the median of the interval of Var.

get_delta(Var, Delta)
Returns the width of the interval of Var.

is_in_domain(Var, Value)
Succeeds if and only if Value is contained in the current domain of Var.

is_in_domain(Var, Value, Result)
Binds Result to 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe' depending on whether Value is in the current domain of Var.

delayed_goals_number(Var, Number)
Returns the number of delayed goals suspended on the IC attribute. This approximates the number of IC constraints that Var is involved in.

3.2.8  Propagation threshold predicates

With interval constraint propagation, it is sometimes useful to limit propagation for efficiency reasons. In IC, this is controlled by the propagation threshold. The way it works is that for non-integer variables, bounds are only changed if the absolute and relative changes of the bound exceed this threshold (i.e. small changes are suppressed). This means that constraints over real variables are only guaranteed to be consistent up to the current threshold (over and above any normal widening which occurs).

Note that a higher threshold speeds up computations, but reduces precision and may in the extreme case prevent the system from being able to locate individual solutions.

The default threshold is 1e-8.
get_threshold(Threshold)
Returns the current propagation threshold.

set_threshold(Threshold)
Sets the propagation threshold. Note that if the threshold is reduced using this predicate (requiring a higher level of precision), the current state of the system may not be consistent with respect to the new threshold. If it is important that the new level of precision be realised for all or part of the system before computation proceeds, set_threshold/2 should be used instead.

set_threshold(Threshold, WakeVars)
Sets the propagation threshold, with re-computation. If the threshold has been reduced, all constraints suspended on the bounds of the variables in the list WakeVars are woken.

3.2.9  Solving by Interval Propagation

Some problems can be solved just by interval propagation, for example:
[eclipse 9]: X :: 0.0..100.0, sqr(X) $= 7-X.

X = X{2.1925824014821353 .. 2.1925824127108307}

Delayed goals:
    ...
yes.
There are two things to note here: Note that, since variables by default range from minus to plus infinity, we could have written the above example as:
[eclipse 2]: sqr(X) $= 7-X, X $>= 0.

X = X{2.1925824014821353 .. 2.1925824127108307}

Delayed goals:
    ...
yes.
If too little information is given, the interval propagation may not be able to infer any interesting bounds:
[eclipse 2]: sqr(X) $= 7-X.

X = X{-1.0Inf .. 7.0}

Delayed goals:
    ...
yes.

3.2.10  Reducing Ranges Further

There are two methods for further domain reduction. They both rely on search and splitting the domains. There are two parameters to specify how domains are to be split.

The Precision parameter is used to specify the minimum required precision, i.e. the maximum size of the resulting intervals (in either absolute or relative terms). Note that the propagation threshold (section 3.2.8) needs to be one or several orders of magnitude smaller than precision, otherwise the solver may not be able to achieve the required precision.

The lin/log parameter guides the way domains are split. If it is set to lin then the split is in the arithmetic middle. If it is set to log, the split is such as to have roughly the same number of floats to either side of the split. This is to take the logarithmic distribution of the floats into account.

If the ranges of variables at the start of the squashing algorithm are known not to span several orders of magnitude (|max| < 10 * |min|) the somewhat cheaper linear splitting may be used. In general, log splitting is recommended.
locate(+Vars, +Precision)
locate(+Vars, +Precision, +lin/log)
Locate solution intervals for the given variables with the required precision. This works well if the problem has a finite number of solutions. locate/2,3 work by nondeterministically splitting the ranges of the variables until they are narrower than Precision.

squash(+Vars, +Precision, +lin/log)
Use the squash algorithm (see below) on these variables. This is a deterministic reduction of the ranges of variables, done by searching for domain restrictions which cause failure, and then reducing the domain to the complement of that which caused the failure. This algorithm is appropriate when the problem has continuous solution ranges (where locate would return many adjacent solutions).

locate(+LocateVars,+SquashVars,+Precision,+lin/log)
A variant of locate/2,3 with interleaved squashing: The squash algorithm (see below) is applied once to the SquashVars initially, and then again after each splitting step, i.e. each time one of the LocateVars has been split nondeterministically. A variable may occur both in LocateVars and SquashVars.

Squash algorithm

A stronger propagation algorithm is also included. This is built upon the normal bound consistency. It guarantees that, if you take any variable and restrict its range to a small domain near one of its bounds, the original bound consistency solver will not find any constraint unsatisfied.



Figure 3.1: Propagation with Squash algorithm (example)



All points (X,Y) Y >= X, lying within the intersection of 2 circles with radius 2, one centred at (0,0) the other at (1,1).
[eclipse 2]: 4 $>= X^2 + Y^2, 4 $>= (X-1)^2+(Y-1)^2, Y $>= X.

Y = Y{-1.0000000000000004 .. 2.0000000000000004}
X = X{-1.0000000000000004 .. 2.0000000000000004}

Delayed goals:
    ...
yes.
The bound-consistency solution does not take into account the X >= Y constraint. Intuitively this is because it passes through the corners of the box denoting the solution to the problem of simply intersecting the two circles.
[eclipse 2]: 4 $>= X^2 + Y^2, 4 $>= (X-1)^2+(Y-1)^2, Y $>= X,
                squash([X,Y], 1e-5, lin).

X = X{-1.0000000000000004 .. 1.4142135999632601}
Y = Y{-0.41421359996326 .. 2.0000000000000004}

Delayed goals:
    ...
yes.

3.2.11  Obtaining Solver Statistics

(Using the facilities described in this section requires importing the ic_kernel module. Also, since they depend on the internals of the IC library, the details presented here are subject to change without notice.)

Often it is difficult to know where the solver spends its time. The library has built-in counters which keep track of the number of times various events occur:
ic_lin_create
The number of linear constraints set up.
ic_lin_prop
The number of times a linear constraint is propagated.
ic_uni_prop/ic_bin_prop/ic_tern_prop
The number of times a non-linear (unary/binary/ternary) operator is propagated.
ic_split
The number of domain splits in locate/2,3,4.
ic_squash
The number of squash attempts in squash/3 or locate/4.
Users who wish to track activity within their own programs may (if they wish) use the same mechanism. New event types can be registered (see below) and actions recorded by calling the ic_event(Event) predicate.

The counters are controlled using the primitives:
ic_stat(on)
ic_stat(off)
Enables/disable collection of statistics. Default is off.

ic_stat(reset)
Reset statistics counters.

ic_stat(print)
Print statistics counters to the standard output stream.

ic_stat_get(-Stat)
Returns a list of CounterName=CounterValue pairs, summarising the computation since the last reset.

ic_event(+Name)
Records the fact that the named event has happened.

ic_stat_register_event(+Name,+Description)
Registers a new event type and sets the counter to 0. This allows user-defined predicates to record their own events within the same framework.

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