Many times over the course of this tutorial, we have had to write the following three lines of repetitive query code:
[?p :person/name ?name] [?m :movie/cast ?p] [?m :movie/title ?title]
Rules are the means of abstraction in Datalog. You can abstract away reusable parts of your queries into rules, give them meaningful names and forget about the implementation details, just like you can with functions in your favorite programming language. Let's create a rule for the three lines above:
[(actor-movie ?name ?title) [?p :person/name ?name] [?m :movie/cast ?p] [?m :movie/title ?title]]
The first vector is called the head of the rule where the first symbol is the name of the rule. The rest of the rule is called the body.
It is possible to use
[...] to enclose it, but it is conventional to use
(...) to aid the eye when distinguishing between the rule's head and its body, and also between rule invocations and normal data patterns, as we'll see below.
You can think of a rule as a kind of function, but remember that this is logic programming, so we can use the same rule to:
Put another way, we can use both
(actor-movie ?name ?title) for input as well as for output. If we provide values for neither, we'll get all the possible combinations in the database. If we provide values for one or both, it'll constrain the result returned by the query as you'd expect.
To use the above rule, you simply write the head of the rule instead of the data patterns. Any variable with values already bound will be input, the rest will be output.
The query to find cast members of some movie, for which we previously had to write:
[:find ?name :where [?p :person/name ?name] [?m :movie/cast ?p] [?m :movie/title "The Terminator"]]
[:find ?name :in $ % (actor-movie ?name "The Terminator")]
% symbol in the
:in clause represent the rules. You can write any number of rules, collect them in a vector, and pass them to the query engine like any other input:
[[(rule-a ?a ?b) ...] [(rule-b ?a ?b) ...] ...]
Rules can also be used as another tool to write logical OR queries, as the same rule name can be used several times:
[[(associated-with ?person ?movie) [?movie :movie/cast ?person]] [(associated-with ?person ?movie) [?movie :movie/director ?person]]]
Subsequent rule definitions will only be used if the ones preceding it aren't satisfied.
Using this rule, we can find both directors and cast members very easily:
[:find ?name :in $ % :where [?m :movie/title "Predator"] (associated-with ?p ?m) [?p :person/name ?name]]
Given the fact that rules can contain calls to other rules, what would happen if a rule called itself? Interesting things, it turns out, but let's find out in the exercises.
Write a rule
[movie-year ?title ?year] where
?title is the title of some movie and
?year is that movies release year.
Two people are friends if they have worked together in a movie. Write a rule
[friends ?p1 ?p2] where
p2 are person entities. Try with a few different
?name inputs to make sure you got it right. There might be some edge cases here.
Write a rule
[sequels ?m1 ?m2] where
?m2 are movie entities. You'll need to use the attribute
:movie/sequel. To implement this rule correctly you can think of the problem like this: A movie
?m2 is a sequel of
?m1 if either
?m2is the "direct" sequel of
?m2is the sequel of some movie
?mand that movie
?mis the sequel to
There are (at least) three different ways to write the above query. Try to find all three solutions.