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I'm working through my AI textbook I got and I've come to the last homework problem for my section:

"Implement the Unification Algorithm outlined on page 69 in any language of your choice."

On page 69, you have the following pseudo-code for the unification algorithm:

function unify(E1, E2); 

begin case both E1 and E2 are constants or the empty list: if E1 = E2 then return {} 

else return FAIL; 

E1 is a variable: if E1 occurs in E2 then return FAIL else return {E2/E1} 

E2 is a variable if E2 occurs in E1 then FAIL else return {E1/E2} either E1 or E2 are empty then return FAIL otherwise: begin HE1 := first element of E1; 

HE2 := first element of E2; 

SUBS1 := unify(HE1, HE2); 

if SUBS1 := FAIL then return FAIL; 

TE1 := apply(SUBS1, rest of E1); 

TE2 := apply(SUBS1, rest of E2); S

UBS2 := unify(TE1, TE2); 

if SUBS2 = FAIL then return FAIL; 

else return composition(SUBS1, SUBS2) end end end

Now, I understand the general concept of unification but I have absolutely no idea how I would even begin to implement this in a language like Java or C#.

I'm not even sure what the method signature would look like. What type of variables would it take? I'm fairly certain I need to return lists to represent predicate calculus constructs but that is a guess.

For example, when it says "E1 is a variable", well, if I'm passing it into the Unify method, how could it be anything but? I could check for null but would that be different than "empty list"?

Can anyone help me or point me in the right direction for implementing the Unification algorithm in C# or Java?

1 Answer

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by (105k points)

Normally in the OOP concept, we typically create an abstract base class Expression and derive other classes from it like List, Variable, or Constant. However, in my opinion, this is overkill. I implemented this in C# using the dynamic keyword.

The next question is what does it return? A list of bindings that can be implemented as a Dictionary<string, Object>.

Below is a piece of code from the C# implementation of implementation from a library called Jigsaw that I am developing for teaching how to implement languages C#.

public static Dictionary<string, object> Unify(dynamic e1, dynamic e2) { if ((IsConstant(e1) && IsConstant(e2))) { if (e1 == e2) return new Dictionary<string,object>(); throw new Exception("Unification failed"); } if (e1 is string) { if (e2 is List && Occurs(e1, e2)) throw new Exception("Cyclical binding"); return new Dictionary<string, object>() { { e1, e2 } }; } if (e2 is string) { if (e1 is List && Occurs(e2, e1)) throw new Exception("Cyclical binding"); return new Dictionary<string, object>() { { e2, e1 } }; } if (!(e1 is List) || !(e2 is List)) throw new Exception("Expected either list, string, or constant arguments"); if (e1.IsEmpty || e2.IsEmpty) { if (!e1.IsEmpty || !e2.IsEmpty) throw new Exception("Lists are not the same length"); return new Dictionary<string, object>(); } var b1 = Unify(e1.Head, e2.Head); var b2 = Unify(Substitute(b1, e1.Tail), Substitute(b1, e2.Tail));

You can find the rest of the code in the following link:

http://www.cs.trincoll.edu/~ram/cpsc352/notes/unification.html

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