Prolog is a general-purpose logic programming language associated with artificial intelligence and computational linguistics.
Prolog has its roots in first-order logic, a formal logic, and unlike many other programming languages, Prolog is declarative: the program logic is expressed in terms of relations, represented as facts and rules. A computation is initiated by running a query over these relations.
The language was first conceived by a group around Alain Colmerauer in Marseille, France, in the early 1970s and the first Prolog system was developed in 1972 by Colmerauer with Philippe Roussel.
Prolog was one of the first logic programming languages, and remains the most popular among such languages today, with several free and commercial implementations available. The language has been used for theorem proving, expert systems, term rewriting, type inference, and automated planning, as well as its original intended field of use, natural language processing. Modern Prolog environments support the creation of graphical user interfaces, as well as administrative and networked applications.
Prolog is well-suited for specific tasks that benefit from rule-based logical queries such as searching databases, voice control systems, and filling templates.
Syntax and semantics
Main article: Prolog syntax and semantics
In Prolog, program logic is expressed in terms of relations, and a computation is initiated by running a query over these relations. Relations and queries are constructed using Prolog’s single data type, the term. Relations are defined by clauses. Given a query, the Prolog engine attempts to find a resolution refutation of the negated query. If the negated query can be refuted, i.e., an instantiation for all free variables is found that makes the union of clauses and the singleton set consisting of the negated query false, it follows that the original query, with the found instantiation applied, is a logical consequence of the program. This makes Prolog (and other logic programming languages) particularly useful for database, symbolic mathematics, and language parsing applications. Because Prolog allows impure predicates, checking the truth value of certain special predicates may have some deliberate side effect, such as printing a value to the screen. Because of this, the programmer is permitted to use some amount of conventional imperative programming when the logical paradigm is inconvenient. It has a purely logical subset, called “pure Prolog”, as well as a number of extralogical features.
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