The choice for a suitable language to program artificial intelligence requires carefulA Good Language for Artificial IntelligenceHanwei Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
consideration. What sort of requirements must a language meet in order to be able to
program AI? The answer can be determined by examining the most powerful features of
a language and how they are used in conjunction with AI.
One advocate for Prolog, Denis Susac (http://ai.about.com/compute/ai/library/weekly/aa012000a.htm),
cites that a language should be modeled after first-order predicate logic. A predicate consists
of an action which is modified by an object. An example would be something like, "Loves(Jack, Jane)".
This example would say that Jack loves Jane due to the action being modified by the
objects. Susac argues that declarative programming languages, such as Prolog "have their
commands executed in the order necessary to achieve the solution, not the order that can be
easily followed from the source code". This statement says that the functionality of the
language is more important that readability. This should obviously be true because the
correctness of an algorithm should have the utmost importance.
The relationship between objects is also an important feature when selecting a
language for AI. One should take a look at the example Susac describes. The relationship
between a person and his grandparents can be described as a parent of a parent of a person.
While this example is using a relationship which is easily visible to programmers and
non-programmers alike, it does demonstrate how objects within a language can be
related to one another by virtue of syntax and not mere intuition.
The author of the book for this course, Peter Norvig, advocates the use of Python and
Lisp due to features such as "high-level built in data structures, combined with dynamic
typing and dynamic binding" (http://www.norvig.com/python-lisp.html). It is these features
which aid in Rapid Application Development. Features like the ones mentioned above
aid in AI because it allows for more powerful representations of real functions.
Several other criteria make Lisp, and similarly Python, a good candidate for a good AI
language. One such thing is that both support heterogeneous lists. This can be rather useful
when objects in a list are not the same data type. Both also have relatively the same
basic data types (i.e. list, integer, float, complex, string, etc.) The ability to have a list
as a native basic type is very powerful. In the programming assignments for CSE150, all
the data had to be stored in lists and processed from them accordingly. It is fully possible
to have implemented those projects in arrays (if we were to do it in another language),
however, the manipulation of such arrays get costly and time-consuming. It is much easier to
be able to recursively call a list to perform the search algorithms than to maintain an array
For me to choose a language which I think is best for AI would be rather premature as I
have only had hands on experience with Lisp. Lisp indeed is a powerful tool for performing
operations such as higher-order functions. However, by reading the descriptions of the
languages described above, I would say that Prolog appears to be the language of choice
for doing AI. The predicate nature of the language is rather unique and is conducive to
expressing relationships between objects and actions more naturally.