Comparison and unification of arbitrary terms. Terms are ordered in the so-called “standard order''. This order is defined as follows:
- Variables < Numbers < Strings < Atoms < Compound Terms
- Variables are sorted by address.
- Numbers are compared by value. Mixed integer/float are compared as floats. If the comparison is equal, the float is considered the smaller value. If the Prolog flag iso is defined, all floating point numbers precede all integers.
- Strings are compared alphabetically.
- Atoms are compared alphabetically.
- Compound terms are first checked on their arity, then on their functor name (alphabetically) and finally recursively on their arguments, leftmost argument first.
Although variables are ordered, there are some unexpected properties
one should keep in mind when relying on variable ordering. This applies
to the predicates below as to predicate such as sort/2
as well as libraries that reply on ordering such as library
library(ordsets). Obviously, an established relation A
no longer holds if A is unified with e.g., a number. Also
unifying A with B invalidates the relation because
they become equivalent (==/2) after unification.
As stated above, variables are sorted by address, which implies that they are sorted by‘age', where‘older' variables are ordered before‘newer' variables. If two variables are unified their‘shared' age is the age of oldest variable. This implies we can examine a list of sorted variables with‘newer' (fresh) variables without invalidating the order. Attaching an attribute, see section 8.1, turns an‘old' variable into a‘new' one as illustrated below. Note that the first always succeeds as the first argument of a term is always the oldest. This only applies for the first attribute, i.e., further manipulation of the attribute list does not change the‘age'.
?- T = f(A,B), A @< B. T = f(A, B). ?- T = f(A,B), put_attr(A, name, value), A @< B. false.
The above implies you can use e.g., an assoc (from library
library(assoc), implemented as an AVL tree) to maintain
information about a set of variables. You must be careful about what you
do with the attributes though. In many cases it is more robust to use
attributes to register information about variables.
- [ISO]@Term1 == @Term2
- True if Term1 is equivalent to Term2. A variable is only identical to a sharing variable.
- [ISO]@Term1 \== @Term2
- Equivalent to
\+Term1 == Term2
- [ISO]@Term1 @< @Term2
- True if Term1 is before Term2 in the standard order of terms.
- [ISO]@Term1 @=< @Term2
- True if both terms are equal (==/2) or Term1 is before Term2 in the standard order of terms.
- [ISO]@Term1 @> @Term2
- True if Term1 is after Term2 in the standard order of terms.
- [ISO]@Term1 @>= @Term2
- True if both terms are equal (==/2) or Term1 is after Term2 in the standard order of terms.
- [ISO]compare(?Order, @Term1, @Term2)
- Determine or test the Order between two terms in the standard
order of terms. Order is one of
, with the obvious meaning.