Add Applicative instances for MTL types

David Menendez dave at
Wed Jan 14 13:56:14 EST 2009

On Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 12:16 PM, Bas van Dijk <v.dijk.bas at> wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 2:50 PM, Ross Paterson <ross at> wrote:
>> Even though Applicative is not a superclass of Monad, I think we ought to
>> ensure that the instances are compatible.  That is, if an Applicative
>> is also a Monad, then we should have pure = return and (<*>) = ap.
> Yes, but what if an Applicative isn't a Monad?
> We can't have two instances because they overlap:
> instance Monad m => Applicative (ErrorT e m) where
>    pure  = return
>    (<*>) = ap
> instance Applicative m => Applicative (ErrorT e m) where
>    pure      = ErrorT . pure . pure
>    ef <*> ex = ErrorT $ liftA2 (<*>) (runErrorT ef) (runErrorT ex)
> I think the latter is more useful because there are more Applicatives
> than Monads out there.

The latter is just normal composition of applicative functors, in this
case "Comp m (Either e)".

newtype Comp f g x = Comp { unComp :: f (g x) }

instance (Functor f, Functor g) => Functor (Comp f g) where
    fmap f = Comp . fmap (fmap f) . unComp

instance (Applicative f, Applicative g) => Applicative (Comp f g) where
    pure = Comp . pure . pure
    f <*> x = Comp $ liftA2 (<*>) (unComp f) (unComp x)

Given how easy it is to combine different functors and applicative
functors, there isn't very much need for (applicative) functor

I agree with Ross, the functor and applicative instances for monad
transformers should satisfy these laws:

    fmap = liftM
    pure = return
    (<*>) = ap

>> This fails for your ErrorT instance: ap runs the second computation
>> only if the first succeeded, while (<*>) runs them both before checking
>> for errors.  It needs a Monad constraint (like StateT), though not an
>> Error constraint.
> But isn't 'runErrorT ex' only evaluated when 'runErrorT ef' returns
> 'Right f' because of lazy evaluation?

No, in your definition, the effects of the transformed applicative
functor are evaluated regardless of the error condition.

Try this code:

    runState (runErrorT (throwError "!" <*> put False)) True

The first definition of <*> returns (Left "!", True). The second
returns (Left "!", False).

Dave Menendez <dave at>

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