This page describes the notion of term (aka expression). Its subpages provide several interpretations of terms, all of which are valid so you can use each interpretation at your own discretion.

The purpose of a term is to compute pairs that constitute a relation. We use operators to assemble terms from smaller terms, to express in formal language precisely what is meant in the natural language of the business. The smallest term is a single relation.

An term is a combination of operators and relations. Its meaning is a set of pairs, which is in fact a newly created relation. The word "expression" may be used as a synonym for term in the context of Ampersand.

`owner`

`r;s~`

`I /\ goalkeeper;goalkeeper~`

`destination;"Algarve" |- spoken;"Portugese"`

Every term is built out of relations, which are combined by operators. An term has one of the following 8 syntactic structures

<Term> <BinaryOperator> <Term><UnaryOpPre> <Term><Term> <UnaryOpPost><RelationRef> <type>?I <type>?V <type>?<atom>( <Term> )

The operators come in families. We advise novices to study only the rule operators, boolean operators and relational operators. There is a wealth of things you can express with just these operators. The residual operators seem a lot harder to learn and the Kleene operators are not fully implemented yet. You can click the hyperlink to navigate to the semantics of each family.

Operators with different binding power may be used in the same term without brackets, because the binding power tells how it is interpreted. For example $r\cap s;t$ means $r\cap(s;t)$ because $;$ has a higher binding power than $\cap$.

Operators with the same binding power must be used unambiguously. For example: $r\cap(s-t)$ means something different than $(r\cap s)-t$. In such cases Ampersand insists on the use of brackets, so readers without knowledge of the binding powers of the operators can read a term unambiguously.

Repeated uses of an associative operator does not require brackets. So $r\cap s \cap t$ is allowed because $\cap$ is associative.

When coding in Ampersand, these operators are typed with characters on the keyboard. The following table shows the operators in math and their equivalent in code:

operator name | code | math | remark | |

equivalence (equal) |
| $=$ | use only in a rule | |

inclusion | ` | -` | $\subseteq$ | use only in a rule |

intersect |
| $∩$ | associative | |

union |
| $∪$ | associative | |

difference (minus) |
| $-$ | | |

complement |
| | in code: Prefix; in math: Overline | |

compose |
| $;$ | associative | |

converse (flip) |
| $\smallsmile$ | postfix | |

left residual |
| $/$ | | |

right residual |
| $\backslash$ | | |

diamond |
| $\Diamond$ | | |

relational product |
| $\dagger$ | associative | |

cartesian product |
| $\times$ | deprecated | |

reflexive transitive closure |
| $∗$ | in code: not implemented; in math: Postfix | |

transitive closure |
| $+$ | in code: not implemented; in math: Postfix | |