PLOGHELP OP Jonathan Laventhol Jun 1983
Revised: Kathryn Seifert Aug 1986
Revised: Simon Nichols May 1987
Revised: Adrian Howard Jul 1992
Operators and how to declare them.
?- op(, , ).
Keywords: operators, precedence, type, fix, associativity
CONTENTS - (Use g to access required sections)
-- INTRODUCTION
-- DECLARING OPERATORS
-- PRECEDENCE
-- ... REMOVING OPERATORS
-- TYPE
-- EXAMPLES
-- CHANGING BACK TO STANDARD OPERATOR DECLARATIONS
-- RELATED DOCUMENTATION
-- INTRODUCTION -------------------------------------------------------
Operators in Prolog are a notational convenience for reading and writing
certain compound terms, i.e. those whose principal functor has
previously been declared as an operator using the evaluable predicate
op/3. For example, the term:
2 + 1
is a compound term whose functor is named '+' of arity 2, with arguments
1 and 2.
-- DECLARING OPERATORS ------------------------------------------------
A call of op/3 takes the following form:
?- op(, , ).
and declares an atom A or a list of atoms L as operators with precedence
P and type T (these terms are explained below). When a list of atoms L
is given as the third argument to 'op', all of the atoms in the list
will be declared as operators with the same associativity and type.
Thus,
?- op(Prec, Type, Atom).
declares Atom as an operator of given precedence and type, and
?- op(Prec, Type, [Atom|Atoms]).
declares Atom and each member of Atoms as operators with the same
precedence and type.
Using 'op', any standard system operator declaration can be changed by
the user. See PLOGHELP * OPERATORS for a list of the standard operator
declarations which are made when POPLOG Prolog is loaded.
-- PRECEDENCE ---------------------------------------------------------
The precedence of an operator is indicated by an integer from 1 to 1999.
It is used to disambiguate expressions where the structure of the term
is not made explicit through the use of brackets. The lower the
numerical value of the precedence, the greater the "binding power" of
the operator. Given any term, the general rule is that the operator with
the highest precedence, i.e. the operator which binds least tightly, is
the principal functor (this can, of course, be changed by the
appropriate use of brackets). In other words, the expression with the
operator which binds most tightly is evaluated first. Thus, since the
multiplication operator '*' has a numerically lower precedence value
(21) than the addition operator '+' (31), the expression
1 + 4 * 3
is interpreted as
1 + (4 * 3)
-- ... REMOVING OPERATORS ---------------------------------------------
If instead of an integer the atom "off" is given then the specified
operator is removed instead of being declared. For example:
:- op(off, xfx, and).
Will remove a previously declared operator and/2.
-- TYPE ---------------------------------------------------------------
The type of an operator encodes two pieces of information: it determines
the "fix" (or position) of an operator and its associativity.
An operator may appear in one of three positions:
1. INFIX -- the operator appears between its two arguments.
2. PREFIX -- the operator precedes its single argument.
3. POSTFIX -- the operator appears after its single argument.
Infix operators are BINARY - they take two arguments - and prefix and
postfix operators are UNARY - they take a single argument.
If, in an expression, the argument to an operator with precedence P is a
subexpression whose principal functor is an operator which also has a
precedence of P, there is an ambiguity which must be resolved using the
associativities of the operators.
The possible values for indicating the type (fix and associativity) in
an operator declaration are the following atoms:
Prefix operators:
fx
fy
Postfix operators:
xf
yf
Infix operators:
xfx
xfy (right associative)
yfx (left associative)
The 'f' stands for the functor (i.e. the operator) and the 'x's and 'y's
for its arguments; the choice of whether to indicate an argument by an
'x' or by a 'y' determines the associativity of the operator.
An 'x' stands for a subexpression which can contain an operator whose
precedence is numerically less than the precedence of the operator 'f',
i.e. its principal functor must be of lower precedence, unless the
subexpression is explicitly bracketed. A 'y' stands for a subexpression
which can contain an operator with a precedence less than or the same as
the precedence of the operator 'f'.
A binary operator can be declared to be one of left associative, right
associative or non-associative. For a given operator, such as '++', this
choice determines how an expression such as:
a ++ b ++ c
is interpreted.
After the declaration
:- op(100, xfy, ++). % declare '++' to be right associative
the following two expressions are equivalent:
a ++ b ++ c
a ++ (b ++ c)
Conversely, after the declaration
:- op(100, yfx, --). % declare '--' to be left associative
the following two expressions are equivalent:
a -- b -- c
(a -- b) -- c
Finally, given the declaration
:- op(100, xfx, **). % declare '**' to be non-associative
the following expression is ILLEGAL:
a ** b ** c
and requires bracketing.
Similar considerations apply to prefix and postfix operators. After the
declaration
:- op(100, fy, not). % declare 'not' as a prefix operator
the following expressions are equivalent:
not not P
not(not P)
However, if 'not' were declared with type 'fx', only the second of the
above expressions would be legal.
-- EXAMPLES -----------------------------------------------------------
The division operator '/' is normally declared as a left associative
infix operator (yfx) :
:- op(21, yfx, /).
Thus, the following expressions are equivalent:
?- X is 6 / 2 / 3.
X = 1 ?
yes
?- X is (6 / 2) / 3.
X = 1 ?
yes
However, we can redefine '/' as a right associative operator:
:- op(21, xfy, /).
Now the following expressions are equivalent:
?- X is 6 / 2 / 3.
X = 9 ?
yes
?- X is 6 / (2 / 3).
X = 9 ?
yes
The multiplication operator '*' is normally declared as an infix
operator with precedence 21, and the addition operator '+' is normally
declared as an infix operator with precedence 31. Thus, the following
expressions are equivalent:
?- X is 9 * 2 + 7.
X = 25 ?
yes
?- X is (9 * 2) + 7.
X = 25 ?
yes
-- CHANGING BACK TO STANDARD OPERATOR DECLARATIONS --------------------
If you have made some changes to the declarations of built-in Prolog
operators and you wish to change them back to their standard
declarations, use library DEFAULT_OPS. See PLOGHELP * DEFAULT_OPS for
more details.
-- RELATED DOCUMENTATION ----------------------------------------------
PLOGHELP * CURRENT_OP
How to get the precedence, fix and atom of the current operator
PLOGHELP * DEC10
Library file to change operator precedences to those of DEC10 Prolog
PLOGHELP * DEFAULT_OPS
How to restore operator precedences to their default values
PLOGHELP * OPERATORS
Operator declarations made when the Prolog system is loaded
--- C.all/plog/help/op -------------------------------------------------
--- Copyright University of Sussex 1987. All rights reserved. ----------