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Package "indexed_terms"

Title:Positional access to terms' arguments
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Latest version:1.0.0
SHA1 sum:3fe1cddcf563db6e9477e1e8fddf68f52f6b2d52
Author:Stassa Patsantzis <e.patsantzis17@imperial.ac.uk>


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Indexed data structures for Swi-Prolog

Predicates to facilitate creating, initialising, accessing and manipulating indexed terms, to be used as the building blocks of arrays, vectors and matrices (a.k.a. "tensors").

In the context of this module, "Indexed terms" (iterms, for short) are compound Prolog terms meant to be treated as named collections taking advantage of arg/3 to access data by index and nb_setarg/3 to modify these data in-place.

Using indexed_terms

indexed_terms is designed to be used with Swi-Prolog and will probably not be entirely compatible with other Prolog systems. A version of Swi-Prolog from 7.0 and above is required.

This module is meant to be used as a library. Add it to your project and include it in your code in the usual way, with a use_module/1 directive.

?- use_module(src(indexed_terms)).

If you want to inspect the code, or run the tests, start the project using its load file, (project root)/ load_project.pl. On Windows you can double-click the project to bring up the Swi-Prolog IDE, along with the documentation browser. Starting the project this way will also load and run the tests. If you want to run the tests manually, use run_tests/[0,1]:

?- run_tests.
?- run_tests(window).
?- run_tests(window:window_basic_usage_ascending).

Inspect the test file, src(indexed_terms.plt) for more information on the tests themselves and on the usage of the predicates in this module.

To stop the tests from running when the project loads, edit the project load file, load_project.pl (in the project rood directory).

Iterm indices

The arity of an iterm may range from 0 to whatever is the effective limit of your hardware. Accordingly, the valid range of indices of an iterm, is an enumeration of the arguments of the iterm, which informs the choice of iterm starting indices: the first index of an iterm is either 1, for an iterm with at least one argument, or 0, for an iterm with 0 arguments.

In other words, for an iterm of arity a, with starting index i:

      / 1    if a > 0
i = <
      \ 0    if a = 0

Additionally, predicates in this module allow negative indices to be used to access iterm arguments in descending order. For example, an iterm of arity 3 may be accessed with any of the indices in {-3,-2,-1,1,2,3}, where -3 and 1 would both access the first argument of the iterm. Refer to the documentation of iterm_index/3 for a more detailed discussion of positive and negative iterm indices.

The choice of variable starting indices, may appear a little peculiar - in most languages the indices of random-access data structures either start at 0, or 1 (though a few, like Ada and Fortran allow the user to specify their own range, which this module doesn't). When in doubt, iterm_index/3 may be used to clarify any misunderstandings about the valid range of iterms' indices.

Iterm creation and manipulation.

Predicates in this module fall into two broad types: on the one hand, predicates for creating, indexing and accessing iterms, and on the other, predicates for selecting ranges of arguments of iterms between two indices.

Creating iterms

Predicates iterm/3, typed_iterm/4, blank_iterm/3, init_iterm/4, sequence/5 and sequence/6 may be used to create iterms from a functor name and list of arguments, or a number denoting its arity.

iterm/3 creates an iterm from a functor name and a list of arguments, without any restrictions except those that apply to compound_name_arguments/3, which this predicate is basically just a thin wrapper around.

?- iterm(v, [a,b,c,d], T).
T = v(a, b, c, d).

typed_iterm/4 creates iterms from a list of arguments that must belong to one of a set of argument types, defined in iterm_types/1. Attempting to create a typed iterm with arguments of the wrong type raises a type_error. Note however that any type-checking required after the typed iterm is created is up to the user.

?- typed_iterm(v, atom, [a,b,c,d], T).
T = v(a, b, c, d).

?- typed_iterm(v, number, [a,b,c,d], T).
ERROR: Type error: `number' expected, found `a' (an atom)

blank_iterm/3 creates iterms of a given arity with all their arguments as unbound variables. init_iterm/4 does the same, but binds all arguments to a given value. You can use these two when you know the size of your data but not yet its final values.

?- blank_iterm(v, 8, T).
T = v(_1168, _1170, _1172, _1174, _1176, _1178, _1180, _1182).

?- init_iterm(v, 5, 0, T).
T = v(0, 0, 0, 0, 0).

The common numeric computing task of creating a vector of zeroes, or other default values, or a sequence of numbers, is encapsulated by init_iterm/4 and also sequence/5 and sequence/6.

?- sequence(s,1,10,1,S).
S = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

?- sequence(s,1,5,1,2,S).
S = s(1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5).

iterm_index/3 and iterm_value/3 may be used to index through an iterm nondeterministically, by generating its valid range of indices.

Additionally, iterm_index/3 may be used to map between negative and positive indices, while iterm_value/3 accepts negative indices to allow accessing iterm elements "from the back". See more information on indices in the following section.

?- sequence(s,1,5,1,S), iterm_index(S,I,O) .
S = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5),
I = -5,
O = 1 ;
S = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5),
I = -4,
O = 2 .

?- sequence(s,1,5,1,S), iterm_value(S,2,V) .
S = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5),
V = 2.

?- sequence(s,1,5,1,S), iterm_value(S,-2,V) .
S = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5),
V = 4.

iterm_value/3 may be further used to instantiate arguments of an iterm to a desired value. The two different use cases, accessing and assignment, are accomplished by leaving the index and value arguments unbound, or providing ground values, respectively.

?- sequence(s,1,5,1,S), iterm_value(S,-2,100) .
S = s(1, 2, 3, 100, 5)

Finally, two predicates, iterm_append/4 and iterm_extend/3 may be used to append two iterms or to increase the sizes of an iterm by a given amount. The latter may be useful for tasks typically accomplished by "dynamic arrays" in imperative languages.

?- sequence(s,1,5,1,S), iterm(v,[a,b,c,d,e],T), iterm_append(v,S,T,ST).
S = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5),
T = v(a, b, c, d, e),
ST = v(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, a, b, c, d, e).

?- sequence(s,1,5,1,S), iterm_extend(S,5,S_) .
S = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5),
S_ = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, _4170, _4172, _4174, _4176, _4178).

Selecting iterm arguments

subterm/3, slice/4, dice/3 and window/6 may be used to select a sub-set of the arguments of an iterm, as a new iterm with the same functor name. The subset to be selected may be given as an index interval (by specifying two endpoints), a list of indices, or a number of arguments.

Additionally, interval/4, interval/3 and interval/5 may be used to generate numbers in a desired interval and can therefore serve as a source of nondeterminism in forall/2, foreach/2, findall/3 and friends, similar to between/3 but with the ability to omit, or repeat some values, or enumerate in descending order.

?- interval(1,10,I).
I = 1 ;
I = 2 ;
I = 3 .

?- interval(1,10,2,I).
I = 1 ;
I = 3 ;
I = 5 .

?- interval(1,10,2,2,I).
I = 1 ;
I = 1 ;
I = 3 ;
I = 3 ;
I = 5 ;
I = 5 .

?- interval(10,1,2,2,I).
I = 10 ;
I = 10 ;
I = 8 ;
I = 8 ;
I = 6 ;
I = 6 .

subterm/3 selects the arguments at the indices provided by a sequence of numbers, such as one generated by sequence/[5,6].

?- iterm(v,[a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j],T), subterm(T,v(3,4,5,6),Ss).
T = v(a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j),
Ss = v(c, d, e, f).

slice/4 selects arguments between two indices. Indices may be positive or negative, allowing slicing from the start or end of an iterm.

?- sequence(s,1,10,1,S), slice(S,2,8,Ss).
S = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10),
Ss = s(2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

?- sequence(s,1,10,1,S), slice(S,-2,2,Ss).
S = s(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10),
Ss = s(9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2).

Endpoints may also be given in descending order to obtain the selected arguments in reverse order. The following example showcases the use of descending-order endpoints to reverse an iterm:

?- slice(v(a,b,c,d,e),5,1,S).
S = v(e, d, c, b, a).

dice/3 selects successive "chunks" (subsets of an iterm's arguments) of a given width. It always starts at the first argument and ends at the last, performing a linear scan over the arguments of an iterm.

?- iterm(v,[a,b,c,d,e],T), dice(T,2,Ss).
T = v(a, b, c, d, e),
Ss = [v(a, b), v(b, c), v(c, d), v(d, e)].

window/6 selects arguments between two endpoints, yielding chunks of a chosen width and while skipping any number of arguments. It generalises slice/4 and dice/3 and has a broad range of applications besides, that include such complex tasks as collecting n-grams or skip-grams from a string and more. Refer to the documentation on the predicate itself for more details.

?- iterm(s,['The',cat,sat,on,the,mat,with,a,hat,like,a,prat],T)
T = s('The', cat, sat, on, the, mat, with, a, hat, like, a, prat),
Ws = [s('The', cat), s(on, the), s(with, a), s(like, a)].

Because of the complex relation between window/6 parameters and the broad range of use cases of this predicate, a number of auxiliary predicates are made public in this module: these are window_span/3, window_size/5 and maximum_stride/4. These can be used to reason about the effects of any window/6 parameter values that give unexpected results.


Despite its otherwise rich library, Swi Prolog does not provide any predicates to create and manage "arrays" or other high-level facilities for positional access over collections of terms (other Prolog systems do this, for instance Gnu Prolog has an extensive array library). While low-level predicates, such as arg/3 and nb_setarg/3 can serve this function, a more principled approach to positional access requres quite a bit of work from the user, wheras a more ad-hoc use of arg/3 etc can lead to a lot of "boilerplate" code. This module hopes to address this lack of positional access primitives by providing a starting point for an implementation of arrays for Swi Prolog.

In situations where random access to the elements of a collection is required, the ability to access terms' arguments by index makes writing efficient code easier than it is when doing it the traditional way, with Prolog lists, where elements must be accessed in a sequential order.

Examples of manipulations that can benefit from positional access to the elements of a collection are "slicing" and "dicing" (selecting elements between two indices and selecting chunks of a constant size, respectively) and in general any manipulation that needs to access a range of elements between two indices, especially in a non-linear order.

Although it's of course entirely feasible to achieve the same results with Prolog lists, one has to walk through the length of a list to do so. In some cases, time can be saved by instead jumping between indices at will. This becomes even more important when one has to manipulate large numbers of elements in such manner.

A particularly interesting use-case is the representation of vectors and matrices and the operations over them that are crucial to statistical AI applications. Although the traditional matrix representation in Prolog, as a list-of-lists, is serviceable, it can be more efficient to represent such multi-dimensional data structures, or "tensors" (as they are increasingly commonly known) as one-dimensional arrays along with some logic to calculate the appropriate index offsets.

Indeed, predicates in this module are meant to form the basis of an efficient implementation of a tensor manipulation library for Swi Prolog. The current version is written entirely in Prolog and therefore makes use of the available positional access primitives and this may not offer the best possible performance. On the other hand, the creator of this library considers the most important aspect of her work to be the formal declaration of a useful public interface for indexed terms, which can them be re-implemented as foreign language predicates, if world-class performance proves to be a requirement.

Although the predicates in this library may be used already to treat Prolog compound terms as "arrays" its creator has avoided the use of "array" in its naming conscious of the fact that the ideal interface for an actual array library is open to much discussion.

The usual caveats concerning deviating from the logical, declarative and immutable paradigm that typically accompany every use of arg/3, setarg/3 and similar apply in this case also. However, providing an entire module with high-level predicates that abstract those low-level operations should go some way towards protecting against the worse of this declarative-imperative impedance mismatch. Additionally, the use of non-backtrackable assignment with nb_setarg/3 should also help reduce some of the inevitable pain when debugging recalcitrant applications.

This module makes no assumptions about storage of iterms, such as asserting them into the dynamic database or not etc. It also does not introduce any new operators or syntax, such as using square braces for indexing and so on. This is to allow the greater possible degree of flexibility in its use, particularly so in the planned, subsequent implementation of higher-level array etc. structures.

Contents of pack "indexed_terms"

Pack contains 7 files holding a total of 148K bytes.