Bang patterns

Ben Rudiak-Gould Benjamin.Rudiak-Gould at
Mon Feb 6 08:54:58 EST 2006

Simon Peyton-Jones wrote:

You say that

     let !(x, Just !y) = <rhs> in <body>

can't be desugared to

       t = <rhs>
       x = case t of (x, Just !y) -> x
       y = case t of (x, Just !y) -> y
     t `seq` <body>

and I agree. But that's not the desugaring I'd expect; I'd expect this:

     let t1@(x, Just t2 at y) = <rhs> in t1 `seq` t2 `seq` <body>

which does have the appropriate semantics, I think.

You can also desugar let ![x,y] = e in b to let t1@[x,y] = e in t1 `seq` b 
instead of case e of { [x,y] -> b }, which would solve the polymorphism problem.

The other thing that isn't obvious to me is what should happen when ! is 
nested inside ~. Naively

     case e of { (x,~(y,!z)) -> b }

should be equivalent to

     case e of { (x,t1) -> let (y,!z) = t1 in b }

which should be equivalent to

     case e of { (x,t1) -> let (y,t2 at z) = t1 in t2 `seq` b }

But this is the same as

     case e of { (x,(y,!z)) -> b }

In other words, the ~ has no effect, which is not what I expect. I think 
there's an incompatibility between the interpretation of ! in let and case 
expressions. In let expressions it needs to be able to escape from the 
implicit ~, while in case expressions it should stay inside. One possible 
solution would be to make top-level ~ significant in let expressions, but 
that feels a bit strange too.

Another minor point: allowing

       module Foo where
         !x = ...

would mean that adding an import statement to a terminating program could 
change it into a nonterminating one.

-- Ben

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