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2022: The Year of Prolog
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Prolog

Prolog Education

The initiatives of the The Year of Prolog include a Prolog Education initiative, with a double objective:

  • introduce schoolchildren and young adults to logic, programming, sound reasoning, and AI;
  • map and provide Prolog education resources, that educators can use or adapt to teach Prolog at all levels.
This is a long-term initiative which will be continued in future years, in the final aim of:

  • Making Computational and Logical Thinking through Prolog and its successors a core subject in educational curricula and beyond, worldwide.

The vision

We envisage a world in which sound reasoning and argumentation are adopted in all walks of life, particularly in conflict resolution. Logic allows people to think more clearly. It occupies a central position in human matters as truth and (sound) reasoning play a fundamental role in human thinking. Logic, however, can be difficult to teach and reasoning can be intricate. These barriers of difficulty and intricacy can be mitigated with Prolog. Prolog is simpler than first order logic, which makes it possible for even younger students to understand it. Reasoning with Prolog is easier to follow.

Prolog is not only an excellent tool for teaching logic, it is also an excellent vehicle for developing computational thinking skills. Computational thinking helps students to solve problems using basic concepts such as abstraction, problem decomposition, and recursion.

Computational thinking can be concretely realized in Prolog, which makes Prolog an excellent tool for teaching computer programming to students at all levels, including young children. To facilitate this, students and teachers, regardless of their location and time zone, must have the support of the global academic community as well as access to state-of-the-art pedagogical tools.

In summary, it is important to teach Prolog to young students because it enables them to think computationally using logic and learn computer programming. Our mission is to develop, provide, promote, and maintain open means to these educational ends. We encourage the Prolog community to join us in our efforts.

Some activities

  • Examples of courses that have been given already:

    • Prolog for AI Thinking, by Eric Fung, from May 21 to June 5: 5 sessions total, on Saturdays: : https://www.meetup.com/utdcsor/events/285443171/.

    • Logic Programming with Prolog for AI, by Gopal Gupta, from June 6-10 2022: 5 sessions of 7 hours each: https://personal.utdallas.edu/~jeyv/ai-prolog.png, from 9am to 4pm everyday for 5 days, Central US time.

    • Integrating computing and chemistry using Prolog for middle school students (6th to 8th graders) (SWISH prolog version of our 8 lesson module), by Yuanlin Zhang: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1WBZ72wHVevr-6YV8zrfQXQjvmTCx1rueWrnFN8kkh84/edit?usp=sharing. They are reaching out to schools at Lubbock Independent School District (Texas) and secondary schools associated with the University of Florida.

    • PROLOG for Kids: Playing detective, by Laura Cecchi. We carried out an educational game-based experience at two Elementary Public School in Neuquén, Argentina, based on detective fiction storytelling, in which the goal is to solve a robbery mystery. A set of clues in natural language are given to the little detectives, showing certain situations that will allow them to circumscribe the suspicious persons. Students must encode the clues in Prolog and finally query the logic program on "who is the thief". The game-based experience progressively introduces students to facts, queries and rules. Setting up this experience involved several meetings: with the educational authorities of the Digital Education Department of the Provincial Council of Education of Neuquén, with 4 elementary school teachers with no previous knowledge about programming, with 16 facilitators to guide each group of 3 or 4 children during the experience, and the 3 hour sessions of the actual experience in each school, with children (8-11 years old) who had no previous knowledge about programming. (Package Material in preparation)
  • Examples of courses and activities in preparation:

    • Computational Thinking via Logic Programming (CTLP) course for Middle School Students: 10-12 Year old students will be taught computational thinking in a week-long workshop during the summer that will run from 9am to 4pm at the University of Texas at Dallas. Computational concepts such as problem solving, abstraction, decomposition/modularization, approximation, reasoning, trial-and-error, etc., will be taught via the use of logic programming and Prolog. Puzzle solving and game development will be used as concrete problems to teach computational thinking and programming. This will be a stand-alone course and materials will be developed for it and made freely available.

    • Doughnut Computing Clubs: a co-curricular, after school course and coding-club where students will test with real data from their communities logic programs that calculate the combined efficacy of possible measures to tackle both our ecological crises (such as climate catastrophe, ozone depletion, land conversion) and our societal crises (such as inequity, hunger, war). It is hoped that this will greatly help in particular those cities that have officially adopted Doughnut Economics as their compass (such as Montreal, Nanaimo, Brussels, Amsterdam, Portland, Pennsylvania, Copenhagen).

    • Curricular Activities supported by Doughnut Computing: the above described activity could combine with a parallel, curricular one whenever teachers can identify a subject in any discipline within the curriculum they must cover which lends itself to quantifiable description of an initial status, desired goal and sets of possible actions that also quantifiably can help progress from initial status to goal. Both activities will have access to pre-programmed tools allowing children to experiment with possible solutions around real data and consequently suggest rationally justified improvements of the current situation in their neighborhood, province, and beyond. Teachers can thus motivate students to deduce implicit facts about the topic from logic programs, focusing on critical discussion about ecological and societal implications and encouraging children to become in time pro-active and responsible citizens and stakeholders of technology. It is expected that this interdisciplinary project will be socialised when students thus empowered interact with their schoolmates, parents and with their community in general, showing the logic programs they have developed and promoting the use of Prolog as a valuable tool for programming.

    • Several educational resources for Prolog are currently being developed to engage children, create customized lessons and increase classroom participation, e.g. at IMDEA Software and University of Evora respectively, José Morales and Salvador Abreu are developing new materials and adapting existing courses to fully browser-side interactivity, using the Ciao Playground's Active Logic Documents.

    Chair
    Verónica Dahl.
    Workgroup Coordinators
    Salvador Abreu, José Morales, Manuel Hermenegildo, David Scott Warren.
    Committee Members
    Bob Kowalski, David Scott Warren, Enrico Pontelli, Gopal Gupta, Jacinto Dávila, Jean Rohmer, Jose Morales, Laura Cecchi, Laurent Cervoni, Laurent Chaudron, Manuel Hermenegildo, Michael Genesereth, Paul Tarau, Salvador Abreu, Stefania Costantini, Theresa Swift, Verónica Dahl, Yuanlin Zhang.



  • The Year of Prolog and its activities, including the Alain Colmerauer Prize, are sponsored by the Association for Logic Programming, the Prolog Heritage Association, the AI Journal, Institut Carnot Cognition, and Institut Fredrik Bull, among others.