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HELP SUPER                                           Steven Hardy, March 1982

LIB SUPER provides an enhanced version of the DATABASE which permits PROLOG
like operations. All the normal DATABASE operations are provided, including
WHICH is also provided.

SUPER is still experimental and so may have bugs. It is not supported.

-- SUMMARY OF WHAT SUPER OFFERS --------------------------------------------

SUPER allows the words AND and OR to be used, for example:

   present([and [human ?x] [greek ?x] [dead ?x]]) =>

SUPER allows query variables and definitions in DATABASE items, for example:

   add([member ?x [?x ??y]]);
   add([ifneeded [member ?x [?y ??z]] [member ?x ?z]]);
   add([ifneeded [bachelor ?x] [male ?x] [single ?x]]);

SUPER provides CUT and FAIL, for example:

   add([ifneeded [not ?x] ?x cut fail]);
   add([not ?x]);

The 'evaluable' predicates DO and SET allow SUPER to invoke POP procedures.

SPY and NOSPY provide debugging facilities.

-- RESTRICTIONS ----------------------------------------------------------

Segment variables (ie those preceded by '??') can occur ONLY at the end of
lists. That is, although [?X ??Y] is permissible, [??Y ?X] is not.

Restrictions (ie query variables followed by ':') cannot be used. That is
[FOOBAZ ?X:ISINTEGER] is NOT permitted, though the following is okay:

    [and [foobaz ?x] [do isinteger ?x]]

REMOVE looks for an item EQUAL to its argument and NOT one that MATCHES. Use
LOOKUP followed by REMOVE(IT) instead.

The DATABASE is stored as a list of lists. Each lists contains all the
DATABASE items with a particular word as first element. This is for
efficiency. Because of this all items added to the DATABASE and all goals (eg
arguments to PRESENT) must have a word as their first element. That is

    [?x isin [?x ??y]]

is NOT permitted.

Because of this indexing, and because SUPER modifies items as it ADDS them,
you MUST use ADD (or ALLADD) for putting items into the DATABASE

-- DETAILS --------------------------------------------------------------

AND and OR take any number of arguments.

IFNEEDED items have a 'header' and a list of 'conditions'. If the conditions
are all PRESENT then the header is PRESENT. The conditions are tried left to

CUT removes any remaining alternatives for the current 'goal'. Notice that
AND and OR cannot be defined by the user because of CUT. If one added:

   add([ifneeded [or ?x ??y] ?x]);
   add([ifneeded [or ?x ??y] [or ??y]]);

then a CUT as an argument to OR would CUT only the call of OR and not the
goal invoking OR.

The variables used in DATABASE items have no connection with ordinary POP
variables. The same variables may be used in different DATABASE items and do
not clash.

The 'output' of SUPER (for example, the variable IT) may contain structures
of type REF. This happens when a variable remains unbound.

DATABASE items are found in the order they were ADDed and NOT in reverse
order. This is different to 'normal' DATABASE.

An 'evaluable' predicate, DO, allows access to POP procedures, for example
[DO NL 1], [DO PR ?X] or [DO ISINTEGER ?X]. The VALOF the first argument to
DO is applied to the remaining arguments. Any SUPER variables are replaced by
their values. If the POP procedure returns FALSE then the DO fails. In all
other cases the DO succeeds and the result (if any) of the POP procedure is

The evaluable predicate SET is used to unify the result of a POP procedure
with a SUPER expression. For example [SET ?X + 2 2] will unify ?X
with 4 (that is '+' applied to 2 and 2). [SET [?X ?Y] FOO ?A ??B] will unify
[?X ?Y] with the result of applying FOO to the value of A and the elements of
the value of B. SET can be used to find the value of a POP variable, for

    [set ?x valof x]

SUPER variables are permitted as goals PROVIDED that they have a value.

-- DEBUGGING -----------------------------------------------------------

The macros SPY and NOSPY are provided to assist in debugging SUPER databases.
Each is followed by a number of predicate names, for example:

   spy member foo
   nospy foo

Notice that SPY and NOSPY are POP predicates and can only be accessed from
within SUPER by using DO. Notice too that both are MACROS

If a predicate (MEMBER and FOO in the above examples) has been SPYed then the
SUPER system prints a message when starting a goal with that as predicate,
when finishing such goals (whether they succeed or failed) and when retrying
such goals. The first 'goal' message contains a unique number for later

NOSPY turns off SPYing on the given predicates.

SPY on its own turns on SPYing on everything. NOSPY on its own turns off
SPYing on everything.

-- EXAMPLES ------------------------------------------------------------

   add([ifneeded [member ?x [?y ??z]] [member ?x ?z]]);

If a goal unifying with [MEMBER ?X [?Y ??Z]] is attempted, for example

   present([member c [a b c d]]) =>

then SUPER will set up the sub-goal [MEMBER ?X ?Z], in this case:

    [member c [b c d]]

If this succeeds then the original goal succeeds.


   add([ifneeded [bachelor ?x] [single ?x] [male ?x]]);

If a goal unifying with [BACHELOR ?X] is attempted, for example

    [bachelor steve]

the SUPER sets up the sub-goal [SINGLE ?X], in this case:

    [single steve]

If this succeeds then SUPER sets up the second sub-goal [MALE ?X], in this

    [male steve]

If this succeeds then the original goal succeeds. If this second sub-goal
fails then an attempt is made to succeed with the first goal in a different
way. If this succeeds then the second sub-goal is attempted again. This is
useful for things such as:

   add([ifneeded [eligible ?x] [bachelor ?x] [rich ?x]]);

If the RICH goal fails then then a new solution to BACHELOR is found.


   add([ifneeded [married ?x] [single ?x] cut fail]);
   add([married ?x]);

Given a goal unifying with [MARRIED ?X], SUPER tries [SINGLE ?X]. If this
succeeds it CUTs the goal [MARRIED ?X]. This means that any more alternatives
for this goal are abandoned. The FAIL then causes the goal of MARRIED to
fail. If the SINGLE goal fails then SUPER goes on to try other laternatives
for MARRIED and finds the second statement which says that ANYTHING is

Notice that the following is INCORRECT:

   add([ifneeded [married ?x] [single ?x] fail]);
   add([[married ?x]);

The effect of these two statements is that anything is MARRIED.


   lookup([and [bachelor ?x] [rich ?x] [do add [eligible ?x]] fail]);

SUPER finds a RICH BACHELOR and then ADDs that he is ELIGIBLE. The FAIL then
causes a new RICH BACHELOR to be found until all RICH bachelors have been
found. The calls of ADD are NOT undone by the failure. Eventually, no more
RICH BACHELORS will be found and call of LOOKUP will fail causing a MISHAP.
It may be clearer to write:

    foreach [and [bachelor ?x] [rich ?x]] do
        add([eligible ^x])

or, equivalently:

   forevery [[bachelor ?x] [rich ?x]] do
        add([eligible ^x])


         [rule sentence nounphrase verbphrase]
         [rule nounphrase determiner noun]
         [rule verbphrase verb nounphrase]
         [lexicon determiner the]
         [lexicon noun man]
         [lexicon noun computer]
         [lexicon verb hated]
         [ifneeded [recognize ?category ?given ?leaving]
             [rule ?category ?x ?y]
             [recognize ?x ?given ?temp]
             [recognize ?y ?temp ?leaving]]
         [ifneeded [recognize ?category [?word ??leaving] ?leaving]
             [lexicon ?category ?word]]
   lookup([recognize nounphrase [the man hated the computer] ?x]);
   x =>
    ** [hated the computer]
   present([recognize ?x [the man hated the computer] []]) =>
    ** <true>
   x =>
    ** sentence

A simple grammar and recognizer are ADDed to the DATABASE. The RECOGNIZE
predicate takes three arguments - a syntactic category and two lists of
words. RECOGNIZE succeeds if removing an instance of the category from the
first list of words leaves the second list.

You are recommended to try this example with SPY.

See also * WHICH