Unification

How to: Unification

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While there are ways of unifying, e.g. e-unification, this is only going to talk about syntactic unification as used in Prolog.

For unification of syntax there is basically only three things to be aware of

  1. Values
  2. Variables
  3. Structures that have a name as a value and are made up of values, variables and structures.

A value is a constant that will not change.
A variable can change but only once, hence the words unbound and bound as opposed to assigned.
A structure will have name called a functor and one or more arguments. While some things may not seem like structures such as list, [a,b,c] they really are in concept. See write_canonical/1

Unification Examples

Based on Wikipedia

Symbols
Variables Constants
In Prolog: Start with upper case letter In Prolog: Start with lower case letter
X Y Z a b f g
Δ Φ Ω π λ ε
⌂ ⌀ ⌘ ☃ ⍟ ∎
Rectangles Ovals

a = a π = π ☃ = ☃
Unify: true
MGU: {}
Unify: true
MGU: {}
Unify: true
MGU: {}
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(a,a).
true.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(π,π).
true.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(☃,☃).
true.

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a = b π = λ ☃ = ⍟
Unify: false Unify: false Unify: false
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(a,b).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(π,λ).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(☃,⍟).
false.

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X = X Δ = Δ ⌂ = ⌂
Unify: true
MGU: {}
Unify: true
MGU: {}
Unify: true
MGU: {}
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(X,X).
true.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(Δ,Δ).
true.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(⌂,⌂).
true.

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a = X π = Δ ☃ = ⌂
Unify: true
MGU: { X ↦ a }
Unify: true
MGU: { Δ ↦ π }
Unify: true
MGU: { ⌂ ↦ ☃ }
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(a,X).
X = a.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(π,Δ).
Δ = π.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(☃,⌂).
⌂ = ☃.

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X = Y Δ = Φ ⌂ = ⌀
Unify: true
MGU: { X ↦ Y }
Unify: true
MGU: { Δ ↦ Φ }
Unify: true
MGU: { ⌂ ↦ ⌀ }
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(X,Y).
X = Y.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(Δ,Φ).
Δ = Φ.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(⌂,⌀).
⌂ = ⌀.

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f(a,X) = f(a,b) λ(π,Φ) = λ(π,ε) ⍟(☃,⌀) = ⍟(☃,∎)
Unify: true
MGU: { X ↦ b }
Unify: true
MGU: { Φ ↦ ε }
Unify: true
MGU: { ⌀ ↦ ∎ }
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(f(a,X),f(a,b)).
X = b.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(λ(π,Φ),λ(π,ε)).
Φ = ε.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(⍟(☃,⌀),⍟(☃,∎)).
⌀ = ∎.

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f(a) = g(a) ε(λ) = π(λ) ∎(⍟) = ☃(⍟)
Unify: false Unify: false Unify: false
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(f(a),g(a)).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(ε(λ),π(λ)).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(∎(⍟),☃(⍟)).
false.

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f(X) = f(Y) π(Ω) = π(Δ) ☃(⌘) = ☃(⌂)
Unify: true
MGU: { X ↦ Y }
Unify: true
MGU: { Ω ↦ Δ }
Unify: true
MGU: { ⌘ ↦ ⌂ }
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(f(X),f(Y)).
X = Y.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(π(Ω),π(Δ)).
Ω = Δ.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(☃(⌘),☃(⌂)).
⌘ = ⌂.

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f(X) = g(Y) ε(Ω) = π(Φ) ∎(⌘) = ☃(⌀)
Unify: false Unify: false Unify: false
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(f(X),g(Y)).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(ε(Ω),π(Φ)).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(∎(⌘),☃(⌀)).
false.

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f(X) = f(Y,Z) λ(Ω) = λ(Φ,Δ) ⍟(⌘) = ⍟(⌀,⌂)
Unify: false Unify: false Unify: false
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(f(X),f(Y,Z)).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(λ(Ω),λ(Φ,Δ)).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(⍟(⌘),⍟(⌀,⌂)).
false.

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f(g(X)) = f(Y) π(λ(Φ)) = π(Δ) ☃(⍟(⌀)) = ☃(⌂)
Unify: true
MGU: { Y ↦ g(X) }
Unify: true
MGU: { Δ ↦ λ(Φ) }
Unify: true
MGU: { ⌂ ↦ ⍟(⌀) }
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(f(g(X)),f(Y)).
Y = g(X).
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(π(λ(Φ)),π(Δ)).
Δ = λ(Φ).
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(☃(⍟(⌀)),☃(⌂)).
⌂ = ⍟(⌀).

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f(g(X),X) = f(Y,a) ε(λ(Φ),Φ) = ε(Δ,π) ∎(⍟(⌀),⌀) = ∎(⌂,☃)
Unify: true
MGU: { X ↦ a, Y ↦ g(a) }
Unify: true
MGU: { Φ ↦ π, Δ ↦ λ(π) }
Unify: true
MGU: { ⌀ ↦ ☃, ⌂ ↦ ⍟(☃) }
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(f(g(X),X),f(Y,a)).
X = a,
Y = g(a).
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(ε(λ(Φ),Φ),ε(Δ,π)).
Φ = π,
Δ = λ(π).
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(∎(⍟(⌀),⌀),∎(⌂,☃)).
⌀ = ☃,
⌂ = ⍟(☃).

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X = f(X) Φ = π(Φ) ⌀ = ☃(⌀)
Unify: false
Occurs check: fails
Unify: false
Occurs check: fails
Unify: false
Occurs check: fails
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(X,f(X)).
X = f(X).
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(Φ,π(Φ)).
Φ = π(Φ).
SWI-Prolog:
?- =(⌀,☃(⌀)).
⌀ = ☃(⌀).
SWI-Prolog:
?- unify_with_occurs_check(X,f(Y,X))
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- unify_with_occurs_check(Φ,π(Φ)).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- unify_with_occurs_check(⌀,☃(⌀)).
false.

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X = Y,
Y = a
Ω = Δ,
Δ = ε
⌘ = ⌂,
⌂ = ∎
Unify: true
MGU: { Y ↦ a, X ↦ a }
Unify: true
MGU: { Δ ↦ ε, Ω ↦ ε }
Unify: true
MGU: { ⌂ ↦ ∎, ⌘ ↦ ∎ }
SWI-Prolog:
?- X=Y,Y=a.
X = Y, Y = a.
or
?- =(X,Y),=(Y,a).
X = Y, Y = a.
SWI-Prolog:
?- Ω=Δ,Δ=ε.
Ω = Δ, Δ = ε.
or
?- =(Ω,Δ),=(Δ,ε).
Ω = Δ, Δ = ε.
SWI-Prolog:
?- ⌘=⌂,⌂=∎.
⌘ = ⌂, ⌂ = ∎.
or
?- =(⌘,⌂),=(⌂,∎).
⌘ = ⌂, ⌂ = ∎.

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a = Y,
X = Y
λ = Φ,
Δ = Φ
⍟ = ⌀,
⌂ = ⌀
Unify: true
MGU: { Y ↦ a, X ↦ a }
Unify: true
MGU: { Φ ↦ λ, Δ ↦ λ }
Unify: true
MGU: { ⌀ ↦ ⍟, ⌂ ↦ ⍟ }
SWI-Prolog:
?- a=Y,X=Y.
Y = X, X = a.
or
?- =(a,Y),=(X,Y).
Y = X, X = a.
SWI-Prolog:
?- λ=Φ,Δ=Φ.
Φ = Δ, Δ = λ.
or
?- =(λ,Φ),=(Δ,Φ).
Φ = Δ, Δ = λ.
SWI-Prolog:
?- ⍟=⌀,⌂=⌀.
⌀ = ⌂, ⌂ = ⍟.
or
?- =(⍟,⌀),=(⌂,⌀).
⌀ = ⌂, ⌂ = ⍟.

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X = a,
b = X
Δ = λ,
ε = Δ
⌂ = ⍟,
∎ = ⌂
Unify: false Unify: false Unify: false
SWI-Prolog:
?- X=a,b=X.
false.
or
?- =(X,a),=(b,X).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- Δ=λ,ε=Δ.
false.
or
?- =(Δ,λ),=(ε,Δ).
false.
SWI-Prolog:
?- ⌂=⍟,∎=⌂.
false.
or
?- =(⌂,⍟),=(∎,⌂).
false.

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