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Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming by Peter Norvig

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Chapter 20

Unification Grammars

Prolog was invented because Alain Colmerauer wanted a formalism to describe the grammar of French. His intuition was that the combination of Horn clauses and unification resulted in a language that was just powerful enough to express the kinds of constraints that show up in natural languages, while not as powerful as, for example, full predicate calculus. This lack of power is important, because it enables efficient implementation of Prolog, and hence of the language-analysis programs built on top of it.

Of course, Prolog has evolved and is now used for many applications besides natural language, but Colmerauer’s underlying intuition remains a good one. This chapter shows how to view a grammar as a set of logic programming ...

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