The predicates described in this section store arbitrary terms in a per-module repository known as the “blackboard”. The main purpose of the blackboard was initially to provide a means for communication between branches executing in parallel, but the blackboard works equally well during sequential execution. The blackboard implements a mapping from keys to values. Keys are restricted to being atoms or small integers, whereas values are arbitrary terms. In contrast to the predicates described in the previous sections, a given key can map to at most a single term.
Each Prolog module maintains its own blackboard, so as to avoid name clashes if different modules happen to use the same keys. The “key” arguments of these predicates are subject to module name expansion, so the module name does not have to be explicitly given unless multiple Prolog modules are supposed to share a single blackboard.
The predicates below implement atomic blackboard actions.
bb_update/3silently fails. This predicate provides an atomic swap operation.
The following example illustrates how these primitives may be used to
implement a “maxof” predicate that finds the maximum value
computed by some nondeterminate goal, which may execute in
parallel. We use a single key
max. Note the technique of using
bb_update/3 in a repeat-fail loop, since other execution branches
may be competing for updating the value, and we only want to store a new
value if it is greater than the old value.
We assume that Goal does not produce any “false” solutions that would be eliminated by cuts in a sequential execution. Thus, Goal may need to include redundant checks to ensure that its solutions are valid, as discussed above.
maxof(Value, Goal, _) :- bb_put(max, -1), % initialize max-so-far call(Goal), update_max(Value), fail. maxof(_, _, Max) :- bb_delete(max, Max), Max > 1. update_max(New):- repeat, bb_get(max, Old), compare(C, Old, New), update_max(C, Old, New), !. update_max(<, Old, New) :- bb_update(max, Old, New). update_max(=, _, _). update_max(>, _, _).