Wielding Prolog during Mindshifting May

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Initial thoughts

I chose prolog because I’ve heard about it here and there, but never looked at it seriously. I think Exercism had the right idea calling it Mindshifting May and not just for the alliteration, Prolog was mind-bending. It’s nothing like any language I’ve used before, and it’s fascinating, I just have no idea where to use it!

Language features

The whole selling point of prolog is that it’s a logical and declarative language which you use to build up rules and represent your facts then you can query those facts and rules. This is a really intriguing idea. You essentially build a program that can answer very specific questions.

It looks a little something like this:


drink(X) :- juice(X).
drink(X) :- coffee(X).

That’s the program. Coming from traditional C-style languages, this is really challenging to grasp. Our program is a set of rules, this one creates some facts like flat_white is a coffee and some rules like drink(X) :- coffee(X) which means any coffee is also a drink. Now what can we do with this?

We can query it! When we run our program, we can ask it questions.

?- drink(flat_white).

?- juice(flat_white).

?- drink(almond).

The closest analogous language to me is SQL. You provide a query of what you want to receive back, and the database will make it happen.

Developer experience

The most challenging part was Prolog itself, getting things up and running was okay. There’s a Prolog extension for Visual Studio Code which adds syntax highlighting and autocomplete, and I was able to install Prolog easily with an asdf plugin. The greatest challenge was shifting my mindset, every programming problem became far more challenging as Prolog is a language that I’ve never encountered before. I didn’t get very far into my journey, I did a few exercises that took far longer than anticipated, and before I knew it the month was over.


Prolog is fascinating to me. It’s the first language I’ve encountered as a professional programmer who forced me to throw out everything I knew. Julia was a language I could do something with by skimming the documentation and hacking something together. Prolog was not, it’s something I want to look at further and give it a proper go. I found it difficult to contextualise in the tools I use day to day, I found myself asking:

  • What problems is Prolog good for?
  • How could I integrate this with other ecosystems?
  • How do I do X in Prolog? Near the end of my journey I found the Power of Prolog, and it goes into a lot more detail about different aspects of the language. If I had found this sooner, I may have made more progress. Overall, there’s something about the language that draws me in, it’s not like anything I’ve ever used before, and I want to revisit it when I have the headspace to do so.


Seth Corker

A Fullstack Software Engineer working with React and Django. My main focus is JavaScript specialising in frontend UI with React. I like to explore different frameworks and technologies in my spare time. Learning languages (programming and real life) is a blast.