Kinship in Prolog...

Prolog is a good computer programming language for dealing with complex structural systems such as that presented by kinship. The following applet will give you some experience with this.

You can load the existing prolog database by clicking on the "Kinstuff" button. Enter a query in the first line, such as male(X), or mother(Mother,Child), click the "Run Query" button, and the results will appear in the second window.

When it first loads, the checkbox "All Solutions" is checked, meaning that Prolog will present all known results to the query at one time. If you uncheck this box, you can get subsequent solutions by clicking the "More?" button.

You can modify the program in the top window, and these changes will be reflected
when you run a new query (including any syntax errors!).

You can email the program and the results by entering your email address in the second line and clicking the "Email Prog/Results" button.

You can also load a prolog program located on the
Ethnographics Gallery by typing the URL in the second line and clicking the "Get URL" button, though there aren't any at present other than "kinstuff.p". We will make other choices available in future.

Here is a
paper relating to representing knowledge about kinship by Michael Fischer originally published in the Bulletin of Information for Computing and Anthropology (BICA) in Feb. 1987. Most of the code in the paper is in the example file kinstuff.p. There is a more sophisticated (and better documented) example in Chapters 6 and 7 of Michael Fischer's book, Applications in Computing for Social Anthropologists, London, Routledge 1994 (ASA Research Methods Series).

You can cut and paste a new program into the top window from a wordprocessor or text editor. This is a basic prolog, but includes most of the powerful structural features. It has no numeric capabilities. Equality is tested by eq(X,Y), and inequality by neq(X,Y).

This credits for this prolog applet are:

W-Prolog 1.2

A Prolog interpreter written in Java

Author: Michael Winikoff
Date: October 1996

Revised: January 1997

Minor modifications (email button and customisations)
Michael Fischer, March 1998

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