The FunctorM library

Thomas Jäger thjaeger at
Mon Mar 21 07:02:48 EST 2005

On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 02:23:40 -0800, Thomas Hallgren
<hallgren at> wrote:
> Simon Marlow wrote:
> And the Haskell libraries already contain superclass relationships that
> make less sense than the Functor=>Monad relationship. For example, why
> is Show and Eq superclasses of Num? Presumably only because it makes
> types more readable. There are types for which you can declare sensible
I think the motivation is pattern matching against numeric patterns (Eq) and 
more readable error messages in case of pattern match failures (Show).
Personally, I'd be happy if numeric pattern matching just forced addiditional
Eq and Show constraints (pattern matching doesn't make sense in your
example anyway).

> So, in other words, I think the fact that Functor is not a superclass of
> Monad is a poorly motivated library design inconsistency...
> >  The current situation is slightly more flexible: you don't *have* to provide a Functor instance for every Monad instance.  On the other hand, it means you occasionally have to write an additional Functor context in types.  You can always get around that by defining
> >
> >  class (Functor m, Monad m) => Monad' m where {}
> >
> >
> Introducing Monad' does not strike me as particularly appealing
> solution, because
>    1. For automatically inferred types, it seems pointless, because the
>       compiler would presumably still infer types containing "(Functor
>       m, Monad m) => ..." rather than "Monad' m => ...".
>    2. To be able to use Monad' in explicitly given type signatures, you
>       would be forced to declare three instances (Functor, Monad,
>       Monad') per type, while if Functor was a superclass of Monad you
>       would only need to declare two instances (Functor, Monad).
3. There are situations where you are just not able to add a Functor constraint.
   For example, when defining `lift' for a monad transformer or incidently,
   when defining a FunctorM instance and you need `m' to be a Functor, all you 
   can do is wrap your monad into a newtype.
4. The more complicated monads get, the more complex a definition of in terms 
   of bind and return becomes, because when defining bind, you're obviously
   doing two things at once that can be seperated. So more often than not, I
   find myself defining
> instane Monad Foo where
>   m >>= f = join' $ f `fmap` m where
>     join' = ...
   If Functor were a superclass (hopefully, I'm getting it right this
time ;)) of
   monad, join could just be put into the class `Monad' together with a default 
   definition of bind in terms of join and vice versa.
5. Although larger dictionaries have to be carried around, having a Functor 
   instance allows for (presumably) slightly more efficient implementations of 
   library functions, e.g.
> liftM2' f x y = x >>= \x' -> f x' `fmap` y


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