Suggestion regarding (.) and map

Dan Doel dan.doel at
Thu Apr 24 17:20:22 EDT 2008

On Thursday 24 April 2008, Wolfgang Jeltsch wrote:
> I don’t think that this is reasonable.  (.) corresponds to the little
> circle in math which is a composition.  So (.) = (<<<) would be far better.

Were I building a library, this might be the direction I'd take things. 
They're two incompatible generalizations, and you have to decide which is 
more important to you.

For instance, you can generalize from arrows into categories (with objects in 

    class Category (~>) where
      id  :: a ~> a
      (.) :: (b ~> c) -> (a ~> b) -> (a ~> c)

And, of course, from this, you get the usual meanings for (->):

    instance Category (->) where
      id x = x
      (f . g) x = f (g x)

An example of a Category that isn't an Arrow (I think) is:

    newtype Op (~>) a b = Op { unOp :: b ~> a }

    instance Category (~>) => Category (Op (~>)) where
      id = Op id
      -- (.) :: (b <~ c) -> (a <~ b) -> (a <~ c)
      (Op f) . (Op g) = Op (g . f)

    type HaskOp = Op (->)

(Why is this even potentially useful? Well, if you define functors with 
reference to what two categories they relate, you get (pardon the illegal 

    map :: (a ~1> b) -> (f a ~2> f b)

Which gives you current covariant endofunctors if (~1>) = (~2>) = (->), but it 
also gives you contravariant endofunctors if (~1>) = (->) and (~2>) = Op 
(->). Is this a useful way of structuring things in practice? I don't know.)

Now, going the (.) = map route, one should note the following Functor 

    instance (Arrow (~>)) => Functor ((~>) e) where
      -- fmap :: (a -> b) -> (e ~> a) -> (e ~> b)
      fmap f g = arr f <<< g

So, in this case (.) is composition of a pure function with an arrow, but it 
does not recover full arrow composition. It certainly doesn't recover 
composition in the general Category class above, because there's no operation 
for lifting functions into an arbitrary Category (think Op: given a function 
(a -> b), I can't get a (b -> a) in general).

(At a glance, if you have the generalized Functors that reference their 
associated Categories, you have:

    map (a ~1> b) -> (e ~3> a) ~2> (e ~3> b)

so for (~1>) = (~3>), and (~2>) = (->), you've recovered (.) for arbitrary 

    instance (Category (~>) => Functor ((~>) e) (~>) (->) where
      map f g = f . g

so, perhaps with a generalized Functor, you can have (.) = map *and* have (.) 
be a generalized composition.)

Now, the above Category stuff isn't even in any library that I know of, would 
break tons of stuff (with the generalized Functor, which is also kind of 
messy), and I haven't even seriously explored it, so it'd be ridiculous to 
request going in that direction for H'. But, restricted to the current 
libraries, if you do want to generalize (.), you have to decide whether you 
want to generalize it as composition of arrows, or as functor application. 
The former isn't a special case of the latter (with the current Functor, at 

Generalizing (.) to Arrow composition seems more natural to me, but 
generalizing to map may well have more uses.

-- Dan

More information about the Haskell-prime mailing list