How do I refactor this mess of if/else conditions so that it's more readable?

    ( Reverse_Path = [[]] -> Child = [c(New_Score,G1,Pos),P]
    ; otherwise -> Child = [c(New_Score,G1,Pos),P|Reverse_Path]
    (  memberchk(Child,NewAgenda) -> addChildren(Others,Reverse_Path,Current,NewAgenda,Target,Result)

    ;  otherwise -> 
        (   NewAgenda=[] -> BrandNewAgenda = [Child|NewAgenda]
        ;   otherwise    -> 
            (New_Score =< FP -> BrandNewAgenda = [Child|NewAgenda];
            otherwise  -> append(NewAgenda,[Child],BrandNewAgenda)

  • \$\begingroup\$ What is the purpose of the code, apart from being a mess? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2020 at 5:00

1 Answer 1


Generally speaking, you can resolve if/else logic by using multiple clauses for the same predicate, as multiple clauses implicitely represent 'or' or 'case', e.g.:

foo([[]], Child) :-
   Child = [c(New_Score,G1,Pos),P].
foo(Reverse_Path, Child) :-
   Child = [c(New_Score,G1,Pos),P|Reverse_Path].
bar(Reverse_Path, Child, NewAgenda, BrandNewAgenda) :-
bar(Reverse_Path, Child, [], BrandNewAgenda) :-
   BrandNewAgenda = [Child].
bar(Reverse_Path, Child, NewAgenda, BrandNewAgenda) :-
   New_Score =< FP,
   BrandNewAgenda = [Child|NewAgenda].
bar(Reverse_Path, Child, NewAgenda, BrandNewAgenda) :-
   append(NewAgenda, [Child], BrandNewAgenda).

main(Reverse_Path, BrandNewAgenda) :-
   foo(Reverse_Path, Child),
   bar(Reverse_Path, Child, [], BrandNewAgenda).

This is just a rough sketch, there are a lot of loose ends here like variables Others, Target or Result (I guess you are juggling too many variables anyway), but I hope you get the gist of it:

  • Decompose into multiple simpler predicates that encode alternatives through multiple clauses.
  • Bind results to "out" variables in the clause head (like Child in foo/2 or BrandNewAgenda in bar/4).
  • Compose the smaller predicates in a "main" predicate that glues them togehter.

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