Anti-unification in Constraint Logic Programming

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Anti-unification refers to the process of generalizing two (or more) goals into a single, more general, goal that captures some of the structure that is common to all initial goals. In general one is typically interested in computing what is often called a most specific generalization, that is a generalization that captures a maximal amount of shared structure.

In this work we address the problem of anti-unification in CLP, where goals can be seen as unordered sets of atoms and/or constraints. We show that while the concept of a most specific generalization can easily be defined in this context, computing it becomes an NP-complete problem. We subsequently introduce a generalization algorithm that computes a well-defined abstraction whose computation can be bound to a polynomial execution time. Initial experiments show that even a naive implementation of our algorithm produces acceptable generalizations in an efficient way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-789
Number of pages17
JournalTheory and Practice of Logic Programming
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2019


  • (most specific) generalization
  • Anti-unification
  • CLP
  • program analysis


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