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How CHR Work

Each CHR constraint is associated with all rules in whose heads it occurs by the CHR compiler. Every time a CHR constraint is executed (called) or woken and reconsidered, it checks itself the applicability of its associated CHR by trying each CHR. By default, the rules are tried in textual order, i.e. in the order they occur in the defining file. To try a CHR, one of its heads is matched against the constraint. Matching succeeds if the constraint is an instance of the head. If a CHR has more than one head, the constraint store is searched for partner constraints that match the other heads. Heads are tried from left to right, except that in simpagation rules, the heads to be removed are tried before the head constraints to be kept (this is done for efficiency reasons). If the matching succeeds, the guard is executed. Otherwise the next rule is tried.

The guard either succeeds or fails. A guard succeeds if the execution of its Ask and Tell parts succeeds and in the ask part no variable that occurs also in the heads was touched or the cause of an instantiation error. The ask guard will fail otherwise. A variable is touched if it is unified with a term (including other variables from other constraints) different from itself. Tell guards, on the contrary, are trusted and not checked for that property. If the guard succeeds, the rule applies. Otherwise the next rule is tried.

If the firing CHR is a simplification rule, the matched constraints are removed from the store and the body of the CHR is executed. Similarly for a firing simpagation rule, except that the constraints that matched the heads preceding \ are kept. If the firing CHR is a propagation rule the body of the CHR is executed without removing any constraints. It is remembered that the propagation rule fired, so it will not fire again with the same constraints if the constraint is woken and reconsidered. If the currently active constraint has not been removed, the next rule is tried.

If the current constraint has not been removed and all rules have been tried, it delays until a variable occurring in the constraint is touched. Delaying means that the constraint is inserted into the constraint store. When a constraint is woken, all its rules are tried again. (This process can be watched and inspected with the CHR debugger, see below.)