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DOC CONTINUATION                              C.Mellish and S.Hardy 1983
                                             Reformatted - A.S. May 1987

This is a slightly expanded version of a paper with the same title  that
appeared in IJCAI-83  - the  8th International Joint  Conference on  AI,
University of Karlsruhe 1983.

After  this  paper  was  written,  lexically  scoped  identifiers   were
introduced into  Poplog and  changes  were made  to the  Poplog  virtual
machine to support a more  efficient implementation of compiled  Prolog.
(The timings given in the paper are out of date.)


                      Chris Mellish and Steve Hardy
                      Cognitive Studies Programme,
                         University of Sussex,
                         Falmer, Brighton, UK.


 --  Introduction
 --  Prolog within High Level Language Systems
 --  The POPLOG Environment
 --  Partial Application and Procedure Closures in POP-11
 --  Implementing Backtracking by Continuation Passing
 --  A Simple Prolog without Datastructures
 --  Representing Prolog Datastructures
 --  More Complex Control Structures
 --  The Actual Implementation
 --  Future Developments
 --  Conclusions
 --  Acknowledgements
 --  References


There are some kinds of programs  that people are unlikely ever to  want
to write  in Prolog,  simply because  the most  "natural"  computational
concepts [Hardy 82a] for  the tasks at hand  are hard to reconcile  with
the declarative, "logical"  flavour of Prolog  programs. Moving a  robot
arm, making  sounds or  pictures or  running a  screen editor  might  be
examples of  such  tasks.  Even  if such  barriers  could  be  overcome,
programming in Prolog would waste  the expertise that already exists  in
writing these kinds  of programs  in "conventional"  languages. Just  as
there is a  need for the  Prolog programmer to  use other languages  for
particular applications, so the  programmer using mainly  "conventional"
languages can  gain  from  using Prolog.  For  instance,  a  Prolog-like
interface to  a  CAD  system  [Swinson  80]  or  a  relational  database
[Kowalski 81] would have many advantages.

Arguments like  these  provide  strong support  for  the  production  of
projects  addressing  the  problems  of   putting  Prolog  in  such   an
environment.  One  of  these  [Hunter,  Mellish,  Owen  82]   involves a
distributed ring  of processors  communicating by  message passing.  The
other involves  the  POPLOG  system, a  mixed  language  AI  programming
environment which  runs on  conventional hardware.  As well  as  Prolog,
POPLOG supports POP-11,  a development  of POP2  [Burstall, Collins  and
Popplestone 77], which  is a  language with semantics  similar to  LISP.
This paper concentrates  on the POPLOG  system and the  way in which  we
have integrated Prolog  with POP-11 in  this system. It  is a  shortened
version of a longer research report [Mellish and Hardy 82].

Prolog within High Level Language Systems

There have been a number of projects involving implementing  Prolog-like
languages within LISP systems, notably the LOGLISP [Robinson and  Sibert
82] and QLOG  [Komorowski 82]  systems. Since  POP-11 is  so similar  to
LISP, it is worthwhile stating some of our main aims for comparison:

1. BANDWIDTH OF INTERFACE. LOGLISP and QLOG both incorporate  mechanisms
   for calling LISP routines as  "subroutines" from the logic  language,
   as well as low bandwidth interfaces in the other direction. We aim to
   develop a model of how Prolog datastructures and control can mesh  in
   with those  of POP-11,  so that,  for instance,  POP-11 programs  can
   create backtracking points and control the generation of solutions by
2. SYMMETRY BETWEEN LANGUAGES. A multi-language programming  environment
   should treat the  languages it  supports in a  symmetrical way.  Both
   LOGLISP and QLOG  are clearly  logic languages  implemented in  LISP,
   rather than  the other  way around.  In the  POPLOG system,  we  have
   achieved a symmetry by  having Prolog an  equal partner with  POP-11,
   programs in both languages being  compiled into instructions for  the
   same virtual machine.
3. COMPATIBILITY. Our  aim  is  to  provide  a  Prolog  system  that  is
   compatible with an existing standard  [Clocksin and Mellish 81],  and
   which can  be used  without any  knowledge of  the other  programming
   languages in POPLOG.  In our  aim for compatibility,  we differ  from
   both QLOG and LOGLISP, but especially from LOGLISP, as it is not  our
   intention to investigate alternative ways of running logic programs.
4. EFFICIENCY. Aiming for an efficient  Prolog system, we have  followed
   Warren [Warren  77], and  have implemented  only a  compiler (not  an
   interpreter, as in both QLOG and LOGLISP). POPLOG Prolog running on a
   VAX 11/780  takes  approximately  254  msec  to  do  Warren's  "naive
   reverse" benchmark [Warren 77]. Ignoring processor differences,  this
   compares  favourably  with  figures  given  by  Warren  for  the  DEC
   System-10 interpreter running on a KI-10 processor (1160 msec)  and a
   figure derived from  a Prolog interpreter  [Clocksin and Mellish  79]
   running on a PDP-11/40 (1077 msec). In speed, POPLOG Prolog does  not
   yet compare favourably with the DEC System-10 compiler (53.7 msec).
    [Note: these timings were made using an early version of Poplog.]

The POPLOG Environment

The POPLOG system is an  AI programming environment developed at  Sussex
University [Hardy 82b]. POPLOG currently runs  under VMS on the DEC  VAX
series of computers, although implementations  for VAX UNIX, PERQ  and a
M68000-based machine are planned. In POPLOG, a text editor, called  VED,
is interposed  between the  user and  compilers for  POP-11 and  Prolog.
Although interaction can by-pass the editor where appropriate, the  user
is usually  communicating with  VED,  the text  editor. The  user's  VDU
screen continuously displays  a portion  of some  selected files.  These
files may belong  either to  the user  or be  documentation or  tutorial
files. When user presses the 'DOIT' button on the keyboard, part of  the
'current' file is sent to one of the compilers. The fragment of text  is
compiled, and the compiler  sends back any output  to VED which  splices
the output into a designated output  file and hence displays the  output
on the user's VDU screen. Since the output is stored in an edit file  it
is easy to review any  output that has scrolled off  the top of the  VDU
screen. A simple interaction with POPLOG will consist of the user typing
in a command, pressing  the DOIT button and  observing the output;  this
cycle is then  repeated. If  a definition needs  to be  modified two  or
three keystrokes after editing suffice to have the procedure re-compiled
and incorporated into the existing compiled program.

The link between the programming languages and the underlying machine is
the POPLOG virtual  machine. The  two compilers  produce POPLOG  virtual
machine code, which is  then translated into machine  code for the  host
machine. At the level of  host machine code, it  is possible to link  in
programs written  in  other languages,  such  as FORTRAN.  The  two-step
compilation process, together with the fact  that most of the system  is
written in  POP-11, makes  POPLOG inherently  portable. At  a time  when
there are so many exciting developments in hardware design we wanted the
POPLOG system to be relatively independent of any actual computer. About
three man months  work should be  sufficient to move  the system to  any
32-bit computer.

POPLOG is  based on  a stack  oriented virtual  machine. Expressions  in
POP-11 and Prolog are translated into instructions for this machine. For
example, the following  is a  simple POP-11  assignment statement.  Note
that the assignments go from left to right.

    x + y -> z;

This statement translates into the virtual machine instructions:

    push    x    - Put the value of variable X on the stack
    push    y    - Put the value of variable Y on the stack
    call    +    - Call the addition procedure, which removes
                   two elements from the stack and replaces them
                   by their sum
    pop     z    - remove one element from the stack and store
                   in the variable Z

A second stack  is used  to save the  values of  local variables  during
procedure calls.  For  example, the  following  is the  definition  of a
POP-11 procedure to double a number:

    define double(x);
        x * 2

This definition translates to:

    save     x    - Save the value of variable X on the system stack
    pop      x    - Set variable X from the user stack
    push     x    - Put the value of X onto the user stack
    pushq    2    - Put the integer 2 onto the user stack
    call     *    - Call the multiplication procedure
    restore  x    - Restore the value of X from the system stack

These instructions are translated to true machine code and then packaged
up into a  'procedure record'  which is  then assigned  to the  variable
DOUBLE. The multiplication procedure, when  called, will take two  items
off the user stack and leave one  result behind. The argument to a  CALL
instruction can be any  user procedure or  system procedure. This  means
that the virtual machine is effectively user extendable.

Procedures for  "planting"  instructions  for the  virtual  machine  are
accessible to the ordinary programmer within POPLOG. This means that the
POP-11 and  Prolog  compilers  are  just two  of  many  possible  POPLOG
programs that create new pieces of machine code.

Partial Application and Procedure Closures in POP-11

In this section we illustrate one technique used in POPLOG to create new
procedures, PARTIAL APPLICATION. In the  next section, we show how  this
can be used for implementing Prolog.  For clarity, the examples will  be
shown in  the form  of POP-11  procedures. It  must be  remembered  that
Prolog code is not translated  into POP-11 procedures, but rather  gives
rise directly to POPLOG virtual machine instructions.

Partial  application  is  a  technique  whereby  a  procedure  and  some
arguments for that procedure  can be 'frozen' together  to create a  new
procedure, a CLOSURE. This is similar to a LISP closure, except that  in
POPLOG the  environment is  not saved.  Partial application  is used  to
provide elegant input/output mechanisms  in POP-11 and this  application
is a  good  introduction  to  closures.  POP-11  provides  a  number  of
primitive   procedures   for   accessing    disc   files.   With    some
simplifications, two of these are:

  * SYSOPEN  which,  given  the  name  of a disc file, returns a 'device
    descriptor' for reading from that file.
  * SYSREAD  which,   given  a  device descriptor,   created  by SYSOPEN,
    returns the 'next' character from the disc file.


    sysopen('foobaz') -> d;

The variable D  will now hold  a device descriptor  for the file  called
FOOBAZ. To read the  first character from this  file and assign it  to a
variable X, we would do:

    sysread(d) -> x;

A subsequent  call to  SYSREAD with  the same  descriptor will  get  the
second character  and so  on. If  we 'partially  apply' SYSREAD  to  the
device descriptor D, thus:

    sysread(%d%) -> p;

then the variable P will hold a closure. Partial application is  denoted
by 'decorated parentheses', '(%' and '%)'. We can now simply apply P  to
read succesive characters from the file, thus:

    p() -> x;

Implementing Backtracking by Continuation Passing

Prolog is implemented using  a technique called 'continuation  passing'.
In this technique, procedures are given an additional argument, called a
CONTINUATION. This continuation (which is a closure) describes  whatever
computation remains  to  be  performed once  the  called  procedure  has
finished ITS computation. Suppose, for example that we have a  procedure
PROG which has just  two steps: calling the  subprocedure FOO and  then,
when that  has  finished,  calling the  subprocedure  BAZ.  Were  such a
procedure to  be  written using  explicit  continuations, BAZ  would  be
passed as an  extra argument to  FOO since BAZ  is the continuation  for
FOO. Actually, PROG itself would also have a continuation and this  must
be passed to BAZ as ITS continuation, thus:

    define prog(continuation);

Thus,  if  we  invoke  PROG  we  must  give  it  explicit  instructions,
CONTINUATION, as  to what  is to  be  done when  it has  finished.  PROG
invokes FOO, giving FOO as its continuation the procedure BAZ which  has
been partially applied to the  original continuation since that is  what
is to be  done when BAZ  (now invoked  by FOO as  its continuation)  has
finished its task.

Continuations have  proved  of  some  significance  in  studies  on  the
semantics of programming languages  [Strachey and Wadsworth 74]  [Steele
76]. This apparently round about way of programming also has an enormous
practical  advantage   for  us   -   since  procedures   have   explicit
continuations there is no  need for them to  'return' to their  invoker.
Conventionally, sub-procedures returning to their invokers means:

    I have finished - continue with the computation

With explicit continuations we can assign a different meaning to a  sub-
procedure returning to its invoker, say:

    Sorry - I wasn't able to do what you wanted me to do

PROG accomplishes its task  by first doing FOO  and then doing BAZ.  The
power of  continuation programming  is made  clear if  we define  a  new
procedure NEWPROG, thus:

    Try doing FOO but if that doesn't work then try doing BAZ

This is represented thus:

    define newprog(continuation);

If we now invoke NEWPROG (with  a continuation) then it first calls  FOO
(giving it the same continuation as itself). If FOO is succesful then it
will invoke the  continuation. If  not then  it will  return to  NEWPROG
which then  tries BAZ.  If BAZ  too fails  (by returning)  then  NEWPROG
itself fails by returning to ITS invoker.

Now consider the following Prolog procedure:

    happy(X) :- healthy(X), wise(X).

This says that X is HAPPY if X is HEALTHY and WISE. If this is the  only
clause for HAPPY  then we  may translate  this to  the following  POP-11

    define happy(x, continuation);
        healthy(x, wise(%x, continuation%))

A call of this procedure can be interpreted as meaning:

    Check that X is happy and if so do the CONTINUATION

This is  accomplished  by passing  X  to HEALTHY  but  giving  HEALTHY a
continuation which then  passes X across  to WISE. Let  us suppose  that
someone is HEALTHY if they either JOG or else EAT CABBAGE, ie:

    healthy(X) :- jogs(X).
    healthy(X) :- eats(X, cabbage).

This can be translated as:

    define healthy(x, continuation);
        jogs(x, continuation);
        eats(x, "cabbage", continuation);

Finally, let us assume that  we know that CHRIS  and JON both JOG.  This
can also be represented by a POP-11 procedure:


    define jogs(x, continuation);
        if x = "chris" then continuation() endif;
        if x = "jon" then continuation() endif;

A Simple Prolog without Datastructures

The translation of JOGS given in the last section does not cater for the
case where X is unknown and we  wish to FIND someone who JOGS. In  fact,
we need to  take account of  the special features  of Prolog  variables.
Prolog variables  start off  "uninstantiated" and  can only  be  given a
value once. In addition, two  "uninstantiated" variables can be made  to
"share" which means that  as soon as  one of them  obtains a value,  the
other one automatically obtains the same value. In the Prolog sub-system
of POPLOG, this is dealt with by representing unknowns by single element
data structures called "references". These are created by the  procedure
CONSREF and their components are accessed by the procedure CONT.

The CONTents of  one of these  REFerences is initially  UNDEF, a  unique
"word" (comparable to  a LISP atom).  If a variable  is instantiated  to
some value, this  value is placed  into the reference  contents. If  two
variables "share", one reference cell is made to contain (a pointer  to)
the other. To find the  "real" value of a  sharing variable, it is  then
necessary to "dereference" it (look for the contents of the  "innermost"

In the JOGS example, instead of simply comparing X with the word  CHRIS,
it is necessary to attempt to  'unify' the data structure with the  word
CHRIS. If we are trying to FIND somebody who jogs, X will be a reference
with contents UNDEF,  whereas if  we are  trying to  CHECK whether  some
specific person jogs, it will be a word (such as CHRIS).

Here is  a  simplified  version  of  our  unification  procedure.  UNIFY
operates by binding Prolog variables which have no value (ie by  putting
something other than UNDEF into the reference). Once the unification  is
complete, UNIFY  performs  the continuation,  and  if this  returns  (ie
fails), UNIFY undoes the changes it made to the datastructures and  then
itself returns.  If the  two structures  cannot be  unified, then  UNIFY
returns without taking any action. Thus, calling the continuation  means
success (in Prolog terms) and returning means failure.

   define unify(x,y,c);
      if x == y then
      elseif isref(x) and cont(x) /= "undef" then
      elseif isref(y) and cont(y) /= "undef" then
      elseif isref(x) then
         y -> cont(x);
         "undef" -> cont(x)
      elseif isref(y) then

The procedure first sees if the  two given datastructures, X and Y,  are
identical. If  so, it  immediately applies  the continuation  C. If  the
structures aren't identical, but  either of X and  Y is a variable  that
has become bound (a reference with contents not UNDEF) then  unification
can use the value of  that variable instead. In the  case where X is  an
unbound variable (not the same  as Y), UNIFY binds  it to Y (by  setting
the CONTents  of X  to Y)  and  calls the  continuation. Once  this  has
returned, UNIFY  unbinds  the variable  (by  resetting its  CONTents  to
UNDEF) and then itself returns. This definition of unification does  not
deal with the case where X or  Y is a Prolog complex term. The  handling
of Prolog datastructures is not significantly more complex.

Given the existence of  the UNIFY procedure,  the correct definition  of
JOGS is now simply:

   define jogs(x,c);

Representing Prolog Datastructures

Most POPLOG  datastructures are  treated  by Prolog  as new  classes  of
constants, the exceptions  being those  used to  implement the  standard
Prolog datastructures (terms). A Prolog term has a fixed type (principal
functor) and length (arity), and it is important that accessing a  given
component can be achieved  in constant time. This  means that terms  are
well represented by array-like structures (called "vectors" in POPLOG).

List pairs in standard Prolog are simply instances of the general  term,
whereas in POPLOG, as in LISP, the pair is a special datastructure.  For
compatibility, we  have  actually  implemented Prolog  pairs  as  POPLOG
pairs, although this is not visible to the Prolog user who does not wish
to use the other POPLOG languages.

As an example  of how complex  datastructures are handled,  here is  the
definition of the list  concatenation predicate APPEND, together  with a
"corresponding" POP-11 program:

   append([L|M],Y,[L|N]) :- append(M,Y,N).

   define append(x,y,z,c);
      vars l, m, n;
      consref("undef") -> l;
      consref("undef") -> m;
      consref("undef") -> n;

This procedure attempts to  unify the first argument,  X, with an  empty
list and if successful unifies the second and third arguments, Y and  Z,
with each other and then applies the continuation C. If this returns (ie
fails), it creates three new unbound  Prolog variables, L, M and N.  The
first argument  of APPEND  is unified  with a  pair made  (by using  the
procedure CONSPAIR) from L and  M. If X is  already a pair, this  should
set L and M to its "car"  and "cdr" respectively. The third argument  to
APPEND is unified with a pair made  from L and N. This ensures that  the
first elements of X and Z  are identical. Finally the recursive call  of
APPEND is performed and if this is succesful the original continuation C
is performed!

More Complex Control Structures

So far, we have seen how passing continuations between procedures allows
Prolog-style backtracking to be  implemented in POPLOG. However,  when a
continuation-expecting procedure is called from one that is not provided
with one, what  continuation should it  be given? In  fact, there  are a
number of  non-local control  procedures  in POPLOG  that can  be  used,
giving rise to a variety of ways of invoking Prolog programs.

First of all,  consider the problem  of calling the  Prolog system  as a
"subroutine" from POP-11. We wish to present some query, and simply find
out whether it  can be  satisfied, possibly  finding out  the values  of
relevant variables  in  the first  solution.  In this  case,  the  final
continuation to  be executed  needs to  be something  that will  cause a
procedure exit  right  back to  where  the first  Prolog  predicate  was
called. The  procedures  THROW  and CATCH,  which  are  developments  of
facilities available in some LISP systems,  enable this to be done.  The
facility can be packaged up in the form of a procedure YESNO_CALL.

   define succeed();

   define dorun(proc);

   define yesno_call(p);

The  procedure  YESNO_CALL  takes  a  continuation-expecting   procedure
(Prolog procedure)  as its  argument  and produces  a new  procedure  (a
closure of CATCH) which always 'returns',  leaving TRUE or FALSE on  the
stack (according to whether the final continuation is executed or  not).
CATCH is supplied  with three arguments  - a main  procedure to  call, a
second procedure and a "pattern". The first thing that CATCH does is  to
simply call  the  first procedure.  If,  during the  execution  of  this
procedure, THROW is called  with an argument  that matches the  pattern,
control returns immediately to CATCH,  which calls the second  procedure
and then returns. If THROW is never called with an appropriate argument,
CATCH just returns as soon as the first procedure does.

In this instance,  the main  procedure given to  CATCH is  a closure  of
DORUN, which will  call the Prolog  procedure and, if  that returns  (ie
fails), simply put the value FALSE on the stack. The Prolog procedure is
given a continuation such that, if it succeeds, it will perform a  THROW
back to the  original CATCH.  The second CATCH  argument, SUCCEED,  will
then run, and will put the value TRUE on the stack. In this example, the
pattern used to "link" the THROW and the CATCH is simply the word YESNO.

THROW and CATCH can be used  to provide an implementation of the  Prolog
"cut" operator. Simple uses of the  cut can be accomplished through  the
YESNO_CALL procedure. For instance, the Prolog clauses:

   tax_code(X,Y) :- employs(Z,X), !, employed_code(X,Y).
   tax_code(X,Y) :- unemployed_code(X,Y).

could be translated into a POP-11 procedure as follows:

   define tax_code(x,y,c);
      if yesno_call(employs)(consref("undef"),x) then

A  problem  with  this  particular  implementation  of  "cut"  is   that
information about variables that  exist previously and are  instantiated
within the YESNO_CALL is lost. Hence certain variables will not be reset
if backtracking  subsequently takes  place. One  remedy for  this  would
involve packaging up  the actions depending  on the truth  value of  the
condition into an EXPRESSION  CONTINUATION [Strachey and Wadsworth  74].
In fact,  our  actual  implementation solves  the  problem  by  secretly
keeping reset information in a different way (see below).

Sometimes one would like  to use the Prolog  system as a "generator"  of
solutions to some problem. These solutions may need to be produced  in a
"lazy" fashion [Henderson and Morris 76]  and we may wish to  manipulate
the generator in CONNIVER-like  ways [Sussman and  McDermott 72]. To  do
this, we need to exploit the POPLOG mechanisms for handling  coroutining
between multiple  processes. To  create  a POPLOG  process, we  use  the
procedure CONSPROC, which when given a procedure returns a process which
when invoked with RUNPROC will  call the given procedure. CONSPROC  must
also be given the arguments that  will be needed by the procedure  and a
count of  the number  of  arguments. A  running process  interrupts  its
execution by  calling the  procedure SUSPEND.  This causes  the  process
which originally  invoked  it  to  restart.  Suppose  we  had  a  Prolog
predicate LEGAL_MOVE, which returned possible  legal moves in some  game
in its one argument. We might want to produce a generator that  produced
these, one  by one,  as they  were  needed by  some other  program.  The
following POP-11 code would do this:

   vars x;
   consref("undef") -> x;

   vars generator;
   consproc(x,suspend(%x,1%),2,legal_move) -> generator;

CONSPROC is being  used here  to make a  new process  involved with  the
calling of LEGAL_MOVE.  LEGAL_MOVE is provided  with two arguments,  the
normal Prolog argument X, which is to be instantiated to some move,  and
a continuation. The continuation  will be invoked  when the Prolog  goal
succeeds. In this case,  it will SUSPEND the  execution of the  process,
leaving one result,  X, on  the stack. Thus  to get  the first  possible
legal move into a variable Y, we now write:

    runproc(0,generator) -> y;

(the 0 specifies  that no arguments  are to be  passed to the  process).
When we wish to obtain the  second move, we call RUNPROC with  GENERATOR
again. The process  is now "woken  up", and it  acts as if  its call  to
SUSPEND has simply  returned like  a normal procedure  call. Within  the
continuation passing model,  procedure return means  failure. Hence  the
legal move generator will  backtrack to find  another solution. When  it
has succeeded, it will again SUSPEND with X put on the stack.

In  this  example,  the  generator  is  returning  its  answers  in  the
"reference" created  for  the  variable X.  As  Prolog  backtracks,  the
contents of this reference will  be reset to UNDEF  and then set to  the
next solution. In order that Y  keeps an unchanging record of the  first
solution, it  must actually  be given  the DEREFERENCED  version of  the
value returned by the generator.

The Actual Implementation (1983)

What we  have presented  so  far is  a model  for  how Prolog  could  be
implemented within POPLOG. This is the model that we expect our users to
have, and the system is expected to behave  as if this is the way it  is
actually constructed. Given this basic framework, it is possible to make
certain optimisations  that  are INVISIBLE  TO  THE USER.  This  section
mentions some of the more interesting optimisations that we have made.

1. The number of closures constructed, and the number of control  frames
   grown, can be reduced by having  compiled Prolog clauses make use  of
   modified unification  code,  which  always  'returns'  and  indicates
   success or failure with a boolean result. The disadvantage with  this
   is  that  the  responsibility  for  resetting  Prolog  variables   on
   backtracking is no  longer taken  by UNIFY,  but must  be handled  by
   extra procedure calls at each backtrack point. Moreover, there  needs
   to be  a  globally  accessible datastructure  ("trail")  for  holding
   variables to be reset on backtracking.
2. The number of  datastructures created  can be reduced  by having  the
   compiler generate  special purpose  UNIFICATION CODE  for  structures
   mentioned in the heads  of clauses, rather than  code to create  such
   structures and  then  invoke  a  general  UNIFY  procedure.  This  is
   Warren's  approach  [Warren  77],  and  is  one  way  of  introducing
   "structure sharing" [Boyer and Moore 72].
3. The control frames for Prolog procedures can actually be discarded as
   soon as there are no more untried choices. The POPLOG procedure CHAIN
   allows the compiler to produce code to do this. CHAIN simply provides
   an alternative way of calling a POPLOG procedure, which discards  the
   current stack frame before invoking  the new procedure. The  explicit
   representation of continuations and the use of CHAIN have a potential
   for allowing  more  space  to  be  reclaimed  than  in  normal  "tail
   recursion optimising" schemes [Warren 80].
4. The representation of a Prolog procedure as a SINGLE POPLOG procedure
   is not  always appropriate,  especially when  the use  of the  Prolog
   predicates ASSERT and RETRACT causes  individual clauses to come  and
   go  rapidly.   Our   Prolog   compiler   can   use   an   alternative
   representation, with each CLAUSE represented by a procedure, and  can
   choose which representation to use.

Future Developments

There are many possible ways in which we can extend the POPLOG system to
enhance mixed language programming further.

First of all, we can  make more use of  the screen editor interface  and
realise its great potential for debugging. There already exists a POPLOG
implementation of  the STRIPS  problem solver  [Fikes and  Nilsson  71],
which produces a continuous display of the changing goal tree using  the
facilities of the editor. It would be extremely valuable to have  such a
debugging aid for Prolog programs.
[Note added by A.S. 1987. Prolog LIB CT and LIB Tracer does this.]

Secondly, we have hardly begun to  explore the productive ways in  which
programs can use the facilities of the two languages. POPLOG is  already
being used for mixed language programming in natural language processing
and vision, but many  of the possibilities are  unexplored, such as  the
possibilities for using Prolog in conjunction with the POPLOG  "process"
mechanism. We  also need  to further  develop and  refine the  range  of
syntaxes available for accessing these facilities.

Finally, more work needs to be done on basic implementation. Some issues
that we are considering are  the space/time efficiency of various  types
of in-line  unification code,  and ways  to minimise  the "trailing"  of


The POPLOG  system provides  an  integrated environment  for  developing
genuinely MIXED LANGUAGE programs in POP-11 and Prolog. We believe  that
its most important features in this respect are as follows. Firstly, the
POP-11 and Prolog compilers are just two of potentially many  procedures
which generate code for the underlying virtual machine. This means  that
the two languages are compatible at a low level, without there being the
traditional  asymmetry  between  a  language  and  its   implementation.
Secondly, the  continuation  passing  model  provides  a  semantics  for
communication between these two languages which allows for far more than
a simple "subroutine calling" interface. Finally, the control facilities
available within POPLOG make it possible to implement a system which  is
faithful to the theoretical model, but which is nevertheless efficient.


We would like to thank John  Gibson, the main implementer of POPLOG  and
the POP-11 compiler, as well as Aaron Sloman and Jon Cunningham for many
useful discussions.


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/*----<Copyright University of Sussex 1983. All rights reserved.>----*/