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Samovar

Version 0.3. Subject to change in backwards-incompatible ways.

Samovar is a DSL for modelling a world using propositions (facts), and possible events that can occur based on those facts, changing them.

Here is a short example of a Samovar description:

scenario IgnatzWithBrick {

    [actor(?A),item(?I),~holding(?A,?I)]  ?A picks up the ?I.   [holding(?A,?I)]
    [actor(?A),item(?I),holding(?A,?I)]   ?A puts down the ?I.  [~holding(?A,?I)]

    actor(Ignatz).
    item(brick).

    goal [].
}

And an implementation of Samovar could take this scenario and use it to, among other things, generate textual descriptions of chains of events like

Ignatz picks up the brick. Ignatz puts down the brick.

Of course, this is a very simple example. (It doesn't even prevent two actors from picking up the same item at the same time!) For more complex examples, and a fuller description of the language, see doc/Samovar.md, which doubles as a test suite.

Discussion

This looks like logic programming but the internals are actually much simpler.

Samovar could be described as an "assertion-retraction engine", which itself could be thought of as a highly stylized form of Prolog programming plus some syntactic sugar.

Alternately, it could be thought of as assigning preconditions and postconditions, like you would find in Hoare logic, to actions in a world-model. Instead of proving that the action satisfies the conditions, though, we simply assume it does, and use the conditions to chain actions together in a sensible order.

But really, the internals are far simpler than an inference engine or a theorem prover: there are no logical rules in the database, only propositions, so they can be selected by simple pattern-matching rather than full unification.

TODO

  • Implement an actual solver.
  • Maybe allow variables to be notated so that they can bind reflexively, e.g. ?*A looks at ?*B can bind both variables to Alice.
  • Make ?_ work such that you can say ¬¨holding(?_, club) to mean "if no one is holding the club".