[Haskell-cafe] A challenge
Josef Svenningsson
josef.svenningsson at gmail.com
Wed Apr 8 13:17:09 EDT 2009
On Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 7:11 PM, Thomas Davie <tom.davie at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> On 8 Apr 2009, at 19:05, Josef Svenningsson wrote:
>
> On Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 4:57 PM, Thomas Davie <tom.davie at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >
>> > We have two possible definitions of an "iterateM" function:
>> >
>> > iterateM 0 _ _ = return []
>> > iterateM n f i = (i:) <$> (iterateM (n-1) f =<< f i)
>> >
>> > iterateM n f i = sequence . scanl (>>=) (return i) $ replicate n f
>> >
>> > The former uses primitive recursion, and I get the feeling it should be
>> better written without it. The latter is quadratic time – it builds up a
>> list of monadic actions, and then runs them each in turn.
>> >
>> > Can anyone think of a version that combines the benefits of the two?
>>
>> There seems to be a combinator missing in Control.Monad. Several people
>> have suggested that iterateM should be implemented using a fold. But that
>> seems very unnatural, we're trying to *build* a list, not *consume* it. This
>> suggests that we should use an unfold function instead. Now, I haven't found
>> one in the standard libraries that works for monads but arguably there
>> should be one. So, let's pretend that the following function exists:
>> unfoldM :: Monad m => (b -> m (Maybe(a,b))) -> b -> m [a]
>>
>> Then the implementation of iterateM becomes more natural:
>> \begin{code}
>> iterateM n f i = unfoldM g (n,i)
>> where g (0,i) = return Nothing
>> g (n,i) = do j <- f i
>> return (Just (i,(n-1,j)))
>> \end{code}
>> I'm not sure whether this version is to your satisfaction but it's quite
>> intuitive IMHO.
>>
>
> That one certainly seems very natural to me, now if only unfoldM existed :)
>
> Well, you can always write it yourself, but that might be a little
excessive if you only want it for iterateM. The other option is of course to
make a library proposal. The thing is, most people never use unfolds so I
don't know how likely it is to be included.
Cheers,
Josef
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