[Haskell-cafe] Re: Nested Monads Questions

Dan Doel dan.doel at gmail.com
Sat Aug 12 04:05:56 EDT 2006

On 8/11/06, Dan Doel <dan.doel at gmail.com> wrote:
> The difference is in what the parameters to the classes MonadTrans and
> MonadIO represent. MonadIO m means that m is a monad into which
> IO-actions can be lifted. MonadTrans t means that (t m) is a monad
> into which m-actions can be lifted. However, since the type class
> doesn't know about m, it's impossible to exprss that composition of
> two transformers is itself a transformer, whereas you can easily
> declare that the result of transforming a MonadIO with a certain
> transformer results in a MonadIO.
Apologies for replying to myself.

I played around a bit, and I was essentially able to express
composition of transformers without extra class parameters. Ideally,
it'd go something like this:

  type CombinatorT (t :: (* -> *) -> * -> *)
                   (u :: (* -> *) -> * -> *)
                   (m :: * -> *)
                   (a :: *) = t (u m) a

  instance (MonadTrans t, MonadTrans u) =>
      MonadTrans (CombinatorT t u) where
          lift = lift . lift

This says that the combinator transformer is a monad transformer if t
and u are. However, since the combinator transformer is just a type
synonym, it would (I think) end up reducing to all combinations of
transformers being transformers.

However, partially applied type synonyms aren't allowed (for good
reasons, I hear; this example is particularly weird; is it possible to
write without using type synonym syntax? MonadTrans (forall m. t (u
m)) ?), so instead, you have to use a data declaration (maybe a
newtype? I don't know):

  data (MonadTrans t, MonadTrans u, Monad m) =>
      CombinatorT t u m a = CombinatorT (m a)

  instance (MonadTrans t, MonadTrans u) =>
      MonadTrans (CombinatorT t u) where
          lift = CombinatorT

However, that doesn't really give the types we want, and obviously
doesn't do the lift composition, so we need a way to get it out of the

  unC :: (MonadTrans t, MonadTrans u, Monad m, Monad (u m)) =>
      CombinatorT t u m a -> t (u m) a
  unC (CombinatorT m)= lift (lift m)

And for less typing:

  liftC = unC . lift

And now an example, shamefully stolen from Mr. Kuklewicz

  type Foo a = (WriterT [Int] (ReaderT String [])) a

  foo :: Foo String
  foo = do
      x <- liftC [1, 2, 3]
      s <- ask
      tell [succ x]
      return (s ++ show x)

  test = runReaderT (runWriterT foo) "hello"

  *Transform> test

-- Dan

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