This tool counts and reports the number of times each port in the procedure box model is traversed during the execution of queries. It can also report the number of times each clause (or grammar rule) is used. It is inspired by the ECLiPSe port_profiler tool.

The procedure box model is the same used in the debugger tool. This is an extended version of the original Byrd’s four port model. Besides the standard call, exit, fail, and redo ports, Logtalk also defines two post-unification ports, fact and rule, and an exception port. This tool can also distinguishes between deterministic exits (reported in the exit column in the profiling result tables) and exits that leave choice-points (reported in the *exit column).

API documentation

This tool API documentation is available at:


For sample queries, please see the SCRIPT.txt file in the tool directory.


| ?- logtalk_load(ports_profiler(loader)).


To test this tool, load the tester.lgt file:

| ?- logtalk_load(ports_profiler(tester)).

Compiling source files for port profiling

To compile source files for port profiling, simply compile them in debug mode and with the source_data flag turned on. For example:

| ?- logtalk_load(my_source_file, [debug(on), source_data(on)]).

Alternatively, you can also simply turn on the debug and source_data flags globally before compiling your source files:

| ?- set_logtalk_flag(debug, on), set_logtalk_flag(source_data, on).

Be aware, however, that loader files (e.g. library loader files) may override default flag values and thus loaded files may not be compiled in debug mode. In this case, you will need to modify the loader files themselves.

Generating profiling data

After loading this tool and compiling the source files that you want to profile in debug mode, simply call the ports_profiler::start goal followed by the goals to be profiled. Use the ports_profiler::stop goal to stop profiling.

Note that the ports_profiler::start/0 predicate implicitly selects the ports_profiler tool as the active debug handler. If you have additional debug handlers loaded (e.g. the debugger tool), those would no longer be active (there can be only one active debug handler at any given time).

Printing profiling data reports

After calling the goals that you want to profile, you can print a table with all profile data by typing:

| ?- ports_profiler::data.

To print a table with data for a single entity, use the query:

| ?- ports_profiler::data(Entity).

To print a table with data for a single entity predicate, use the query:

| ?- ports_profiler::data(Entity, Predicate).

In this case, the second argument must be either a predicate indicator, Name/Arity, or a non-terminal indicator, Name//Arity.

The profiling data can be reset using the query:

| ?- ports_profiler::reset.

To reset only the data about a specific entity, use the query:

| ?- ports_profiler::reset(Entity).

To illustrate the tool output, consider the family example in the Logtalk distribution:

| ?- {ports_profiler(loader)}.

| ?- set_logtalk_flag(debug, on).

| ?- logtalk_load(family(loader)).

| ?- ports_profiler::start.

| ?- addams::sister(Sister, Sibling).
Sister = wednesday,
Sibling = pubert ;
Sister = wednesday,
Sibling = pugsley ;
Sister = wednesday,
Sibling = pubert ;
Sister = wednesday,
Sibling = pugsley ;

| ?- ports_profiler::data.
Entity     Predicate    Fact  Rule  Call  Exit *Exit  Fail  Redo Error
addams     female/1        2     0     1     1     1     0     1     0
addams     parent/2        8     0     4     3     5     1     5     0
relations  sister/2        0     1     1     0     4     1     4     0

| ?- ports_profiler::data(addams).
Predicate    Fact  Rule  Call  Exit *Exit  Fail  Redo Error
female/1        2     0     1     1     1     0     1     0
parent/2        8     0     4     3     5     1     5     0

| ?- ports_profiler::data(addams, parent/2).
Clause  Count
     1      1
     2      1
     3      2
     4      1
     5      1
     6      2

Interpreting profiling data

Some useful information that can be inferred from the profiling data include:

  • which predicates are called more often (from the call port)

  • unexpected failures (from the fail port)

  • unwanted non-determinism (from the *exit port)

  • performance issues due to backtracking (from the *exit and redo ports)

  • predicates acting like a generator of possible solutions (from the *exit and redo ports)

  • inefficient indexing of predicate clauses (from the fact, rule, and call ports)

  • clauses that are never used or seldom used

The profiling data should be analyzed taking into account the expected behavior for the profiled predicates.

Profiling Prolog modules

This tool can also be applied to Prolog modules that Logtalk is able to compile as objects. For example, if the Prolog module file is named module.pl, try:

| ?- logtalk_load(module, [debug(on), source_data(on)]).

Due to the lack of standardization of module systems and the abundance of proprietary extensions, this solution is not expected to work for all cases.

Profiling plain Prolog code

This tool can also be applied to plain Prolog code. For example, if the Prolog file is named code.pl, simply define an object including its code and declaring as public any predicates that you want to use as messages to the object. For example:

:- object(code).

    :- public(foo/2).
    :- include('code.pl').

:- end_object.

Save the object to an e.g. code.lgt file in the same directory as the Prolog file and then load it in debug mode:

| ?- logtalk_load(code, [debug(on), source_data(on)]).

In alternative, use the object_wrapper_hook provided by the hook_objects library:

| ?- logtalk_load(hook_objects(loader)).

| ?- logtalk_load(
         [hook(object_wrapper_hook), debug(on),
          source_data(on), context_switching_calls(allow)]

In this second alternative, you can then use the (<<)/2 context switch control construct to call the wrapped predicates. E.g.

| ?- code<<foo(X, Y).

With either wrapping solution, pay special attention to any compilation warnings that may signal issues that could prevent the plain Prolog code of working as-is when wrapped by an object. Often any required changes are straight-forward (e.g. adding use_module/2 directives for called module library predicates).

Known issues

Determinism information is currently not available when using Quintus Prolog as the backend compiler.