[Haskell-cafe] Pretty little definitions of left and right folds
Derek Elkins
derek.a.elkins at gmail.com
Sat Jun 21 23:32:21 EDT 2008
On Sat, 2008-06-21 at 22:48 -0400, Brent Yorgey wrote:
> On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 09:36:06PM -0500, Derek Elkins wrote:
> > On Sat, 2008-06-21 at 21:11 -0400, Brent Yorgey wrote:
> > > On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 09:52:36PM -0500, Derek Elkins wrote:
> > > > On Fri, 2008-06-20 at 22:31 -0400, Brent Yorgey wrote:
> > > > > On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 06:15:20PM -0500, George Kangas wrote:
> > > > > >
> > > > > > foldright (+) [1, 2, 3] 0 == ( (1 +).(2 +).(3 +).id ) 0
> > > > > > foldleft (+) [1, 2, 3] 0 == ( id.(3 +).(2 +).(1 +) ) 0
> > > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > Hi George,
> > > > >
> > > > > This is very cool! I have never thought of folds in quite this way
> > > > > before. It makes a lot of things (such as the identities you point
> > > > > out) obvious and elegant.
> > > > >
> > > > > > We can also see the following identities:
> > > > > >
> > > > > > foldright f as == foldright (.) (map f as) id
> > > > > > foldleft f as == foldright (flip (.)) (map f as) id
> > > > > >
> > > > > > I like that second one, after trying to read another definition of
> > > > > > left fold in terms of right fold (in the web book "Real World Haskell").
> > > > > >
> > > > > > The type signature, which could be written (a -> (b -> b)) -> ([a] ->
> > > > > > (b -> b)), suggests generalization to another type constructor C: (a ->
> > > > > > (b -> b)) -> (C a -> (b -> b)). Would a "foldable" typeclass make any
> > > > > > sense?
> > > > >
> > > > > As Brandon points out, you have rediscovered Data.Foldable. =) There's
> > > > > nothing wrong with that, congratulations on discovering it for
> > > > > yourself! But again, I like this way of organizing the type
> > > > > signature: I had never thought of a fold as a sort of 'lift' before.
> > > > > If f :: a -> b -> b, then foldright 'lifts' f to foldright f :: [a] ->
> > > > > b -> b (or C a -> b -> b, more generally).
> > > > >
> > > > > > Okay, it goes without saying that this is useless dabbling, but have
> > > > > > I entertained anyone? Or have I just wasted your time? I eagerly await
> > > > > > comments on this, my first posting.
> > > > >
> > > > > Not at all! Welcome, and thanks for posting.
> > > >
> > > > Look into the theory of monoids, monoid homomorphisms, M-sets and free
> > > > monoids.
> > >
> > > Thanks for the pointers! Here's what I've come up with, after
> > > re-reading some Barr-Wells lecture notes.
> > >
> > > First, given finite sets A (representing an 'alphabet') and S
> > > (representing 'states'), we can describe a finite state machine by a
> > > function phi : A x S -> S, which gives 'transition rules' giving a new
> > > state for each combination of alphabet character and state. If we
> > > squint and wave our hands and ignore the fact that types aren't
> > > exactly sets, and most of the types we care about have infinitely many
> > > values, this is very much like the Haskell type (a,s) -> s, or
> > > (curried) a -> s -> s, i.e. a -> (s -> s). So we can think of a
> > > Haskell function phi :: a -> (s -> s) as a sort of 'state machine'.
> > >
> > > Also, for a monoid M and set S, an action of M on S is given by a
> > > function f : M x S -> S for which
> > >
> > > (1) f(1,s) = s, and
> > > (2) f(mn,s) = f(m,f(n,s)).
> > >
> > > Of course, in Haskell we would write f :: m -> (s -> s),
> >
> > This change is not completely trivial.
>
> Hmm... why is that? Is it because of the types-aren't-really-sets
> thing? Or are there other reasons as well?
No, it's just that though these types are isomorphic (in our squinted
vision), they are still not identical and each is different way of
viewing the same thing.
>
> >
> > > and we would
> > > write criteria (1) and (2) as
> > >
> > > (1) f mempty = id
> > > (2) f (m `mappend` n) = f m . f n
> >
> > So what does this make f? Hint: What is (s -> s)?
>
> Aha! f is a monoid homomorphism to the monoid of endomorphisms on s!
> Right?
Yep.
So the monoid action, MxS -> S can be curried to give M -> (S->S), a
monoid homomorphism, or further we can swap the arguments and curry
giving S -> (M->S); one name for this last form, connected to a totally
different field, is a flow. In this case, let M be the monoid of time
(the non-negative reals under addition) and S be points in space (R^3
say). Usually, in this case, the "monoid action" will be the solution
of a differential equation.
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