[Haskell-cafe] A clarification about what happens under the hood with foldMap

Alfredo Di Napoli alfredo.dinapoli at gmail.com
Tue Oct 23 09:53:56 CEST 2012

Hi Cafe,

I was playing with the classic example of a Foldable structure: Trees.
So the code you can find both on Haskell Wiki and LYAH is the following:

data Tree a = Empty | Node (Tree a) a (Tree a) deriving (Show, Eq)

instance Foldable Tree where
    foldMap f Empty = mempty
    foldMap f (Node l p r) = foldMap f l `mappend` f p `mappend` foldMap f r

treeSum :: Tree Int -> Int
treeSum = Data.Foldable.foldr (+) 0

What this code does is straighforward. I was struck from the following
sentences in LYAH:

Notice that we didn't have to provide the function that takes a value and
> returns a monoid value.
> We receive that function as a parameter to foldMap and all we have to
> decide is where to apply
> that function and how to join up the resulting monoids from it.

This is obvious, so in case of (+) f = Sum, so f 3 = Sum 3 which is a
What I was wondering about is how Haskell knows that it has to pass, for
example, Sum in case of (+) and Product in case of (*)?
In other term, I'm missing the logical piece of the puzzle which maps the
associative binary function passed to fold up to our foldMap declaration.

Thanks for any explanation :)

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