[Haskell-cafe] Short circuiting and the Maybe monad

Janis Voigtlaender voigt at tcs.inf.tu-dresden.de
Wed May 14 01:38:56 EDT 2008

Graham Fawcett wrote:
> Yes, but that's still a 'quick' short-circuiting. In your example, if
> 'n' is Nothing, then the 'f >>= g >>= h' thunks will not be forced
> (thanks to lazy evaluation), regardless of associativity. Tracing
> verifies this:

No, it doesn't. What your tracing verifies is that the f, g, and h will
not be evaluated. It doesn't verify that the 'f >>= g >>= h' part of the
expression causes no evaluation overhead. Because that is not true.
Consider the following:

> import Debug.Trace

> data Maybe' a = Nothing' | Just' a  deriving Show

> instance Monad Maybe' where
>     return = Just'
>     Nothing' >>= _ = trace "match" Nothing'
>     Just' a  >>= k = k a

> talk s = Just' . (trace s)
> f = talk "--f"
> g = talk "--g"
> h = talk "--h"

> foo n = n >>= f >>= g >>= h


*Main> foo Nothing'

So you get three pattern-matches on Nothing', where with the associative

> foo' n = n >>= \a -> f a >>= \b -> g b >>= h

you get only one:

*Main> foo' Nothing'

For a way to obtain such improvements automatically, and without
touching the code, you may want to look into


Ciao, Janis.

Dr. Janis Voigtlaender
mailto:voigt at tcs.inf.tu-dresden.de

More information about the Haskell-Cafe mailing list