- Documentation
- Reference manual
- The SWI-Prolog library
- library(clpfd): CLP(FD): Constraint Logic Programming over Finite Domains
- Introduction
- Arithmetic constraints
- Declarative integer arithmetic
- Example: Factorial relation
- Combinatorial constraints
- Domains
- Example: Sudoku
- Residual goals
- Core relations and search
- Example: Eight queens puzzle
- Optimisation
- Reification
- Enabling monotonic CLP(FD)
- Custom constraints
- Applications
- Acknowledgments
- CLP(FD) predicate index
- Closing and opening words about CLP(FD)

- library(clpfd): CLP(FD): Constraint Logic Programming over Finite Domains

- The SWI-Prolog library
- Packages

- Reference manual

The *arithmetic constraints* (section
A.9.2) #=/2, #>/2
etc. are meant to be used *instead* of the primitives `(is)/2`

,
`(=:=)/2`

, `(>)/2`

etc. over integers. Almost
all Prolog programs also reason about integers. Therefore, it is
recommended that you put the following directive in your `<config>/init.pl`

initialisation file to make CLP(FD) constraints available in all your
programs:

:- use_module(library(clpfd)).

Throughout the following, it is assumed that you have done this.

The most basic use of CLP(FD) constraints is *evaluation* of
arithmetic expressions involving integers. For example:

?- X #= 1+2. X = 3.

This could in principle also be achieved with the lower-level
predicate `(is)/2`

. However, an important advantage of
arithmetic constraints is their purely relational nature: Constraints
can be used in *all directions*, also if one or more of their
arguments are only partially instantiated. For example:

?- 3 #= Y+2. Y = 1.

This relational nature makes CLP(FD) constraints easy to explain and use, and well suited for beginners and experienced Prolog programmers alike. In contrast, when using low-level integer arithmetic, we get:

?- 3 is Y+2. ERROR: is/2: Arguments are not sufficiently instantiated ?- 3 =:= Y+2. ERROR: =:=/2: Arguments are not sufficiently instantiated

Due to the necessary operational considerations, the use of these low-level arithmetic predicates is considerably harder to understand and should therefore be deferred to more advanced lectures.

For supported expressions, CLP(FD) constraints are drop-in
replacements of these low-level arithmetic predicates, often yielding
more general programs. See `n_factorial/2`

(section
A.9.4) for an example.

This library uses goal_expansion/2
to automatically rewrite constraints at compilation time so that
low-level arithmetic predicates are *automatically* used whenever
possible. For example, the predicate:

positive_integer(N) :- N #>= 1.

is executed as if it were written as:

positive_integer(N) :- ( integer(N) -> N >= 1 ; N #>= 1 ).

This illustrates why the performance of CLP(FD) constraints is almost
always completely satisfactory when they are used in modes that can be
handled by low-level arithmetic. To disable the automatic rewriting, set
the Prolog flag `clpfd_goal_expansion`

to `false`

.

If you are used to the complicated operational considerations that
low-level arithmetic primitives necessitate, then moving to CLP(FD)
constraints may, due to their power and convenience, at first feel to
you excessive and almost like cheating. It *isn't*. Constraints are
an integral part of all popular Prolog systems, and they are designed to
help you eliminate and avoid the use of low-level and less general
primitives by providing declarative alternatives that are meant to be
used instead.

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