Sicstus tracer

You can trace Prolog's computations by giving the command ?-trace. This will put Prolog in trace mode, showing every single resolution step (except for the predicates that have been compiled rather than consulted). Trace mode is switched off by the command ?-notrace.

We will follow the computation trace of the query ?-student_of(S,peter)., depicted in Figure 3.1 on page 45 of the book. Load the file

| ?- trace.
{The debugger will first creep -- showing everything (trace)}

| ?- student_of(S,peter).
        1      1 Call: student_of(_158,peter) ?
        2      2 Call: follows(_158,_648) ?
?       2      2 Exit: follows(paul,computer_science) ?
        3      2 Call: teaches(peter,computer_science) ?
        3      2 Exit: teaches(peter,computer_science) ?
?       1      1 Exit: student_of(paul,peter) ?

S = paul ? ;
After each line of output we can give a command; h lists the possible options. For the moment we are just stepping through the computation by hitting RETURN. The relation with SLD-trees is as follows. A Call means passing through a node in the SLD-tree in downward direction; only the first literal of the resolvent is shown. Exit means passing upward through a node. The first number to the left indicates the depth of the node in the SLD-tree; the second number indicates the level at which that literal first occurred in the resolvent. For instance, teaches(peter,computer_science) is called at level 3, but is introduced (with the second argument uninstantiated) at level 2.

We have found our first solution, and force backtracking by typing a semi-colon as usual. Notice that Sicstus indicates nodes with possible alternative solutions with a question mark in the left margin. We thus backtrack to the most recent choice point at 2 2.

        1      1 Redo: student_of(paul,peter) ?
        2      2 Redo: follows(paul,computer_science) ?
?       2      2 Exit: follows(paul,expert_systems) ?
        3      2 Call: teaches(peter,expert_systems) ?
        3      2 Fail: teaches(peter,expert_systems) ?
        2      2 Redo: follows(paul,expert_systems) ?
        2      2 Exit: follows(maria,ai_techniques) ?
        3      2 Call: teaches(peter,ai_techniques) ?
?       3      2 Exit: teaches(peter,ai_techniques) ?
?       1      1 Exit: student_of(maria,peter) ?

S = maria ? ;
Redo indicates the search for an alternative solution; notice that the literal following Redo is the most recently found answer rather than the query to which we seek an alternative solution (see the Call at the same level). The second solution for follows(S,C) at 2 2 leads to a failure branch, because we can't solve teaches(peter,expert_systems) at 3 2. We thus redo 2 2 (the question mark showing that not all choices have been exhausted), after which we find our second solution.

Note that there is still a question mark at 3 2, indicating possible alternative solutions -- this is because teaches(peter,ai_techniques) is not the last teaches fact in the program. Forced backtracking however shows that all solutions have been exhausted.

        1      1 Redo: student_of(maria,peter) ?
        3      2 Redo: teaches(peter,ai_techniques) ?
        3      2 Fail: teaches(peter,ai_techniques) ?
        1      1 Fail: student_of(_158,peter) ?