[Haskell-cafe] An experimental Zipper using Thrists and first-class Labels. Help or thoughts?

Brandon Simmons brandon.m.simmons at gmail.com
Tue Jul 27 00:00:35 EDT 2010

I had the idea for a simple generic Zipper data structure that I
thought would be possible to implement using type-threaded lists
provided by Gabor Greif's thrist package:


...and the fclabels package by Sebastiaan Visser, Erik Hesselink,
Chris Eidhof and Sjoerd Visscher:


It would (ideally) work as follows:

- the zipper would consist simply of a tuple:
       (type threaded list of constructor sections , current "context")
- in the type threaded list we store functions (constructor with hole
-> complete constructor), so the
    "one hole context" is represented as a lambda expression where the
free variable will be filled
    by the current "context" (the snd of the tuple)
- we "go down" through our structure by passing to our `moveTo`
function a first-class label
    corresponding to the constructor we want to descend into. `moveTo`
uses this both as a "getter"
    to extract the next level down from the current level, and as a
"setter" to form the lambda expression
    which acts as the "constructor with a piece missing"
- "going up" means popping the head off the thrist and applying it to
the current context, making that
    the new context, exiting the zipper would be a fold in the same manner

After throwing together a quick attempt I realized that I'm not sure
if it would be possible to make the `moveUp` function type-check and
be usable. I'm still new to GADTs, existential types, template haskell
etc. and am stuck.

Here is the code I wrote up, which doesn't currently compile:

----------------------------------  START CODE -------------------------------

{-# LANGUAGE TypeOperators, GADTs #-}
module ZipperGenerator
      viewC   --lets user pattern match against context
    , moveTo
    , moveUp
    , genZippers
    , zipper
    , unzipper
    , (:->)
    , ZipperGenerator
    , Zipper
    ) where

-- these provide the secret sauce
import Data.Record.Label
import Data.Thrist
import Language.Haskell.TH

type ZipperGenerator = [Name] -> Q [Dec]

-- the Template Haskell function that does the work of generating
-- first-class labels used to move about the zipper:
genZippers :: ZipperGenerator
genZippers = mkLabels

-- hide the innards:
newtype Zipper t c = Z (Thrist (->) c t, c)

-- returns the current "context" (our location in the zipper) for pattern
-- matching and inspection:
viewC :: Zipper t c -> c
viewC (Z(_,c)) = c

-- takes a first-class label corresponding to the record in the current context
-- that we would like to move to:
moveTo :: (c :-> c') -> Zipper t c -> Zipper t c'
moveTo lb (Z(thr,c)) = Z (Cons (\a-> set lb a c) thr , get lb c)

-- backs up a level in the zipper, returning `Nothing` if we are already at the
-- top level:
moveUp :: Zipper t c -> Maybe (Zipper t b)
moveUp (Z (Nil,_)) = Nothing
moveUp (Z (Cons f thr,c)) = Just $ Z (thr, f c)

-- create zipper with focus on topmost constructor level:
zipper :: t -> Zipper t t
zipper t = Z (Nil,t)

-- close zipper
unzipper :: Zipper t c -> t
unzipper (Z(thr,c)) = undefined --foldThrist ($) id thr c

----------------------------------  END CODE -------------------------------

Brandon Simmons

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