70 Artificial Intelligence Languages If you want to write programs that can run on different computers, use Java: ✦ Java forces you to know object-oriented programming right from the start (like C#), so knowing Java means you can figure out object-oriented programming at the same time. Because Java isn’t as confusing as C or C++, understanding Java first is likely much easier than understanding C or C++. ✦ If you’re using only a Windows computer, consider trying C#. The C# language is quickly becoming the standard language for writing Windows programs, so if that’s what you want to do, figuring out C# is your best bet. As long as you know at least one curly bracket language, you know one of the most popular programming languages in the world. Artificial Intelligence Languages Programming languages, such as C and BASIC, are often considered procedural or functional languages because they divide a large program into separate procedures or functions that tell the computer how to solve a problem step by step. Although telling the computer what to do step by step might seem like the most logical way to program a computer, another way to program a computer is by using a declarative language. Instead of describing how to solve a problem, declarative programming languages describe ✦ Facts: Information about the problem ✦ Rules: Relationships between this information By using facts and rules, programs written in declarative languages can literally figure out an answer on their own without being told explicitly how to do it. Ultimately, every program, including those written in declarative languages, must get translated into machine language. That means every program must eventually tell the computer how to solve a problem step by step. Declarative languages simply free you from having to describe these steps to the computer. The most popular declarative programming language is Prolog (short for Programming in Logic). A typical Prolog fact might look like this: father(“Sally”, “Jesse”).
Artificial Intelligence Languages 71 The preceding fact tells the computer that Jesse is the father of Sally. Now if you want to know who the father of Sally might be, you could ask the following: Book I Chapter 3 ?- father(“Sally”, X). Using the fact that earlier stated that the father of Sally was Jesse, the preceding Prolog command would simply return: X = “Jesse”. Types of Programming Languages At this point, Prolog simply uses a pre-defined fact to come up with an answer. Notice that even in this simple example, no instructions told the Prolog program how to use the fact that Jesse is the father of Sally. A list of facts by themselves can be made more useful by including rules that define relationships between facts. Consider the following Prolog program that defines two facts and one rule: father(“Jesse”, “Frank”). father(“Sally”, “Jesse”). grandFather(Person, GrandFather) :- father(Person, Father), father(Father, GrandFather). The two facts tell the computer that Frank is the father of Jesse, and Jesse is the father of Sally. The grandfather rule tells the computer that someone is a grandfather if they’re the father of someone’s father. Suppose you typed the following Prolog command: ?- grandFather(“Sally”, Y). The Prolog program tells the computer to use its known facts and rules to deduce an answer, which is: Y = “Frank”. In other words, Frank is the grandfather of Sally. (Frank is the father of Jesse, and Jesse is the father of Sally.) Just from this simple example, you can see how different a Prolog program works compared to a program written in BASIC or C. Instead of telling the computer how to solve a problem, declarative programming languages let you state the facts and the rules for manipulating those facts so the computer can figure out how to solve the problem.
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