[Haskell-cafe] ANN: monad-control-0.2 & a challenge

Bas van Dijk v.dijk.bas at gmail.com
Wed Feb 9 14:22:47 CET 2011

Dear all,

I just released control-monad-0.2 a library for lifting control
operations, like exception catching, through monad transformers:


darcs get http://bifunctor.homelinux.net/~bas/monad-control/

To quote the NEWS file:

* Use RunInBase in the type of idLiftControl.

* Added this NEWS file.

* Only parameterize Run with t and use RankNTypes to quantify n and o
  -liftControl :: (Monad m, Monad n, Monad o) => (Run t n o -> m a) -> t m a
  +liftControl :: Monad m => (Run t -> m a) -> t m a

  -type Run t n o = forall b. t n b -> n (t o b)
  +type Run t = forall n o b. (Monad n, Monad o, Monad (t o)) => t n b
-> n (t o b)

  Bumped version from 0.1 to 0.2 to indicate this breaking change in API.

* Added example of a derivation of liftControlIO.

This derivation of liftControlIO is really enlightening. It shows the
recursive structure of liftControlIO applied to a stack of three monad
transformers with IO as the base monad: t1 (t2 (t3 IO)) a:

(Note that the derivation in the API documentation also shows the
types of the intermediate computations)

 liftLiftControlBase $      -- instance MonadControlIO t1
   liftLiftControlBase $    -- instance MonadControlIO t2
     liftLiftControlBase $  -- instance MonadControlIO t3
       idLiftControl        -- instance MonadControlIO IO
   \f → liftControl $ \run1 →     -- Capture state of t1
          liftControl $ \run2 →   -- Capture state of t2
            liftControl $ \run3 → -- Capture state of t3

              -- At this point we've captured the state of all transformers
              -- and have landed in the base (IO) monad.
              -- So we can start executing f:

              let run ∷ RunInBase (t1 (t2 (t3 IO))) IO
                  run = -- Restore state
                        liftM (join ∘ lift)
                      ∘ liftM (join ∘ lift)

                        -- Identity conversion
                      ∘ liftM (join ∘ lift)
                      ∘ liftM return

                        -- Run
                      ∘ run3
                      ∘ run2
                      ∘ run1
              in f run

This derivation clearly shows what is happening: first the state of
all transformers is captured using the liftControl operations. Each
capture supplies us a run function that allows us to run a computation
of the respected monad transformer. When we arrive in the base (IO)
monad we can start executing f.

f expects a run function
:: ∀ b. t1 (t2 (t3 IO)) b → IO (t1 (t2 (t3 IO)) b)
which allows it to run a t1 computation in IO. The IO computation then
returns a new t1 computation that has the final state of the given t1
computation. This can later be used to restore that final state.

Although the derivation is correct, I'm not really happy with it from
a performance perspective. In the created run function there are two
places where it can do better:

* The identity conversion: (liftM (join ∘ lift) ∘ liftM return) could
be replaced with something more efficient like (liftM (join ∘ lift ∘
return)) or (liftM id) or just id.

* The restore conversion: (liftM (join ∘ lift) ∘ liftM (join ∘ lift))
could be replaced with (liftM (join ∘ lift ∘ join ∘ lift)). This
transformation is correct according to the Functor law: liftM f ∘
liftM g = liftM (f ∘ g).

I haven't figured out yet how to change monad-control in such a way
that it generates this more efficient derivation. So I'm posting this
as a challenge to you!

Good luck,


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