Indexed on: 16 Dec '13Published on: 16 Dec '13Published in: Computer Science - Programming Languages
A multitude of different probabilistic programming languages exists today, all extending a traditional programming language with primitives to support modeling of complex, structured probability distributions. Each of these languages employs its own probabilistic primitives, and comes with a particular syntax, semantics and inference procedure. This makes it hard to understand the underlying programming concepts and appreciate the differences between the different languages. To obtain a better understanding of probabilistic programming, we identify a number of core programming concepts underlying the primitives used by various probabilistic languages, discuss the execution mechanisms that they require and use these to position state-of-the-art probabilistic languages and their implementation. While doing so, we focus on probabilistic extensions of logic programming languages such as Prolog, which have been developed since more than 20 years.