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[learn] Help explaining a strange use of foldr

Haskell on Reddit - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 2:25pm

How does this function work?

foo :: (a -> b -> a) -> a -> [b] -> a foo f a bs = foldr (\b g x -> g (f x b)) id bs a

From what I understand, foldr normally takes 3 parameters, and the first parameter is normally a binary function. In the function foo, foldr seems to have 4 parameters instead of 3, and the first parameter seems to be a ternary function.

Suppose I guessed from here that foo is an implementation of foldl. How would I prove it?

submitted by ronguida
[link] [5 comments]
Categories: Incoming News

Chris Smith: CodeWorld Rises Again!

Planet Haskell - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 2:01pm

About three years ago, I started work on an idea about technology-based math education.  The idea was to get middle school students to work passionately on using mathematics to create things, by:

  1. Doing their own original, creative work, instead of following instructions or reaching set answers.
  2. Getting instant feedback 24 hours a day, so they can tinker and learn in a self-directed way.
  3. Building confidence by working on their own ideas, inspiring pride and excitement.
  4. Experiencing how concepts from geometry, algebra, and physics can be springboards for creativity.
  5. Becoming creators, rather than just consumers, of technology.

That’s a lofty set of goals, but it was very successful.  In the 2011-2012 school year, I taught a small class of six students, two to three hours per week.  We had an awesome time.  They built their own computer games throughout the year.  We struggled together, worked our way through, and finished the school year with an awesome expo where the students showed off their work to local technology professionals and participated in a question-and-answer panel about their experiences.  It was fascinating listening to this, because a few patterns arose:

  • Students didn’t really think of what they were doing as math.  This remained true, even when the skills they learned involved describing the behavior of systems using equations, functions, and variables; describing complex shapes in terms of geometry, the coordinate plane, and rotations, translations, and scaling; coming to grips with the meaning of probability and randomness; etc.
  • The students who entered the year being “good at technology” weren’t necessarily the most likely to succeed.  Talking to these students broke all of the stereotypical molds about computers and technology!  Students took to the activity and wildly succeeded were very often girls, and had previously thought they were more the art-and-music type.

At the end of that year, I had plans to teach this program in multiple schools the following school year.  Unfortunately, things then got a little sidetracked.  I started a new job at Google over the summer, moved to California, and dropped the program.  The web site that students had used to build their projects fell into disrepair, and stopped working.  I stopped doing anything about it.

Over the last week and a half, though, that’s changed!  CodeWorld is back!

Getting Started

The CodeWorld web site is (as always) at

Any web browser will do, but you really need to use the latest version of whatever browser you choose.  If you’ve been putting off upgrading Internet Explorer, it’s long past time!

You’ll also want a Google account.  You can log in using your Google account, and save your programs to Google Drive.  Because your programs are saved to the cloud, you can use the web site from any computer you like, even computer labs in a school, and your programs will follow where ever you go.

Using the web site is simple.  Type your program on the left.  Click Run to see it work on the right.  You can sign in to open your existing projects and save your projects.  You can also get links to share your projects with others.  There are sample projects along the bottom of the screen, including Yo Grandma!, a game written by Sophia, one of my students from the original class.

Unfortunately, instructions on how to write the programs are still mostly missing.  If you already know the language, a link to the generated documentation might help.  Otherwise, hold on!  Once the programming environment is stable, I plan to put together a comprehensive progression of exercises, tutorials, and examples.

Behind the Scenes

Under the hood, I mostly recreated this from scratch, throwing away most of the original project from a few years ago.  This new version of the environment has a lot of advantages: it runs your programs on your own computer, so your program runs a lot faster.  It’s less restrictive.  And I completely customized the language to make a lot of things simpler and easier to understand.


  • The programming language for CodeWorld is called Haskell.  Haskell is an awesomely mathematical language, but parts of it are also notoriously complex.  The new incarnation of CodeWorld still uses Haskell, but goes a lot further to hide the rough edges.  In particular, you’ll rarely see any classes, and there’s an obvious type for most things (e.g., all text has the type Text, and all numbers have the type Number.)
  • Previously, CodeWorld was based on a library called Gloss for the Haskell programming language.  Gloss is great, and I saved as many ideas from it as I could.  But CodeWorld is now its own library.  This let me clean up some terminology, align the meaning of programs more closely with the goals of algebraic thinking and math concepts, and work with the simplified version of the language.
  • The biggest change to how the web site works is that your programs now run on your own computer, instead of on the web server.  This is using an awesome project called GHCJS, which converts the Haskell program into JavaScript, which is understood by web browsers.

I’ll try to keep posting here as I have learning material ready to use with this tool.  Stay tuned!

Categories: Offsite Blogs

Chris Smith: Big changes coming to CodeWorld

Planet Haskell - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 2:01pm

I’m continuing work on CodeWorld, my educational programming environment based on geometry and algebra.  There are big changes coming!  If you’re interested in following the project, please join the new codeworld-discuss mailing list, where I’ll send more regular announcements about significant changes, as well as try to answer questions, and discuss future directions.

Here are some things I intend to change in the near future.  A more complete list is on the project issue tracker, but this is a summary with more details and reasoning about some of the changes.

Aligning With Math Education

An important goal of this project is to align with a standards-based U.S. middle school math education, as much as possible.  To be clear, I still refuse to add complexity or turn the project into a patchwork of specific lessons that promote a specific narrow path of learning.  First and foremost, this should be an environment for tinkering and encountering ideas in self-motivated way.  But given alternative designs that could each be valid on their own, I’ll choose the one that pushes students toward the math standards.

It’s sometimes a tough line to draw.  But I’ve become convinced that there are a few places where I can do better.  Two of those are going to be major breaking changes, coming soon.

1. Death to Currying

Haskell’s convention of currying functions is the wrong default for CodeWorld.  Practically all of mathematics, especially at introductory level, is carried out with the notation f(x,y) = … .  The interpretation is that a function of two parameters is a function whose domain is a product – a set of ordered pairs.  The Haskell language makes a different choice.  Applying a function to two parameters is more like f(x)(y) (the parentheses are optional in Haskell itself), and the interpretation is that f(x) denotes a partially applied function that’s still waiting for its second parameter.

If the goal were to teach about higher-order functions, there would be lots of great arguments for the latter.  If the goal were convenience, you could argue for the latter pretty persuasively, as well.  I think Haskell’s use of currying is great.  But when the goal is to let students encounter and tinker with things they will see in school math, the right choice is to adopt the convention of mathematics.

Luckily, the assumption of curried multi-parameter functions isn’t baked into Haskell too deeply.  By changing the standard library, it’s quite possible to write f(x,y) just as well.  The parentheses on f(x) become optional, but this is actually true of mathematics in general (for example, operators in linear algebra are often written without parentheses, as are trig functions).  I will adopt the convention of using parentheses around even single function parameters.

The only big source of awkwardness comes with binary operators.  So long as we choose not to teach the notations `foo` (for turning a function into an operator) or (+) (for turning an operator into a function), this doesn’t come up much.  Notably, sections still work fine, since they take only one argument.

A couple convenient side effects of this choice are nice, too:

  • Students who routinely write parentheses around function arguments less often find themselves forced to surround negative numbers in parentheses for weird parsing reasons.  As trivial as it might seem, this was a very real and significant learning obstacle the last time I taught the class, and I’ll be happy to see it go.
  • Getting expression structure wrong sometimes gives much better error messages this way.  It’s harder to accidentally mix up precedence between an operator and function application; and passing too few arguments to a function gives a clear error rather than inferring a function type and breaking in an obscure way elsewhere.
2. Resizing the Canvas

The second big change is to resize the canvas from 500×500 to 20×20.

The justification for a 500×500 canvas was generally about confusing pixels – little dots on the screen – with the general idea of a coordinate system.  It’s convenient to blur the distinction at first, but it has in the past become a barrier to understanding the full nature of the coordinate plane with real (or even rational) coordinates.  Many students were confused when later faced with fractional coordinates.  At the same time, developing a full understanding of the rational number system is a big topic in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade mathematics, so it would be great to ask students to do more tinkering with these numbers.

By replacing this with a 20×20 grid (x and y coordinates ranging from -10 to 10), several goals are accomplished:

  • Students early in the class are working with numbers in a range they can comprehend better.
  • Students routinely work in fractions or decimals to fine tune their projects.
  • The abstract coordinate plane, including fractional coordinates, becomes more familiar.

This is a big win overall.

Changes to Usability

On the less controversial side, I’m planning a number of changes to make the site more usable:

  • Pervasive auto-complete, based on a pre-populated list of the standard library symbols as well as parsing the student code for declared names.
  • More complete documentation, tutorials, and better examples.  I admit that the current site is grossly lacking in documentation.  I don’t envy anyone who tries to figure it out on their own!
  • Better tools for playing around with results.  At the very least, students will be given the chance to scroll, pan, and see coordinates of points in pictures, animations, and simulations.
Long-Term Wish List

I also have my wish list for things I’d love to see possible, but am not quite ready to build yet.  This includes:

  • Social features: sharing projects with friends, commenting on or expressing support for other projects.
  • Collaborative projects with shared editing or exporting libraries for others to use.
  • Better debugging tools, such as easy controls to move forward and back in time, fast-forward, pause, etc. for animations, simulations, and even games.
  • Possibly grading features for teachers to grade projects and provide a scoring rubric and comments.

What else would you like to see?  Let me know in the comments here, on codeworld-discuss, or by filing a feature request in the issue tracker.

Categories: Offsite Blogs

Haskell Beginner Stuck on Command-Line IO

Haskell on Reddit - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 10:03am

I am web developer who works primarily in Python and Javascript, and while often the discussion in this subreddit is over my head, I have found the small bits of Haskell that I have learned to be enlightening such that I have recently decided to start building stuff where I can in Haskell in order to advance my understanding of the language.

Anyway, apologies if this does not belong here, but I'm stuck on a problem and I can't seem to figure it out and it finally occurred to me to ask you guys for help.

Here's a gist of a module I built yesterday in order to pull and count IP addresses from Django Tracebacks.

I can use it on the REPL (GHCi) and get results that I expect in the following way:

unlines . map flatten . countUnique . ipOnly . spammers <$> readFile "tracebacks.txt"

However, I can't seem to figure out how to organize the main block. It compiles but does not seem to do anything with input or output (I was hoping to name an infile and outfile on the command-line). Someone here will probably see right away what I'm doing wrong.

In addition, I would be happy to take any other suggestions or critiques you might have of this small script. I crammed a lot of stuff in there in order to experiment with the language a bit, but I'm sure there are mistakes or poor assumptions I have made. In fact, I noticed a discussion today talking about using Data.Text instead of String (which I am relying on pretty heavily here), so I was thinking of rewriting this using Data.Text.

Thanks for any suggestions you might have.

EDIT: I updated the gist with a working main, but I realize now I should probably have kept it broken for people who come to this thread late. The first version can be seen in the revision history:

submitted by erewok
[link] [18 comments]
Categories: Incoming News

Are transformers the answer to this problem?

Haskell on Reddit - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 8:43am

I'm writing a small program (an extension of a Pokemon game that got posted here a while ago) where I'm trying to not use IO as much as possible. The program relies on randomness (picking a random Pokemon and move) and on writing (say things like "Pokemon X attacked you for Y damage!").

Again, I'm trying NOT to use IO, so instead I'm using Rand (Control.Monad.Random) and Writer. Now, I have a couple of functions that return Rand g a (where a can be a pokemon name or move), but I would like to "log" the name and move after they come in.

Here's a simplified version of what I'm trying to do:

battle :: _ battle = do move <- getRandomMove -- returns an Rand g Move tell ["Pokemon attacked you with " ++ name move] damage <- calculateDamage -- returns an Rand g Damage tell ["And did " ++ damage] battle

Of course, this doesn't work (I'm mixing my Rands and Writers). I thought "maybe this is what Transformers are for?"). I tried using WriterT and RandT in a combination of ways, but I always go stuck, which makes me think that's not right either.

So my question are:

  • Are transformers the answer to my problem?
  • If so, how do you use them? (I'm failing to understands them from the tutorials I've found online)
  • If not, how could I solve this problem?

Edit: Formatting Edit2: battle is recursive

submitted by Die-Nacht
[link] [13 comments]
Categories: Incoming News

Algorithm for labeling same-colored regions in a 2Darray?

haskell-cafe - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 4:17am
(Apparently joining the list through the Google Groups interface doesn't work, but the post still shows up there. Sorry if you see this twice!) For fun, I'm writing a rules engine for the board game Go (in Haskell obviously). I have a board, which is a grid of spaces that can contain a black piece, a white piece, or nothing. Part of what i need to do is to detect regions of the same "color" (black, white, or empty) and get information about them like their size, the color of the bordering spaces, etc. Regions are bounded by other colors or the board edges in cardinal directions. I'm just starting on this so I haven't picked my data structures yet, but Vector (Vector _) or Map (Int, Int) _ are what I've toyed with. I have a vague idea of how I would go about this in an imperative language with mutation. I'd iterate over the board, keeping lists of points contained in the same region, combining (relabeling) regions if they happen to connect later on. (I realize there are probably better algorithms in those l
Categories: Offsite Discussion

PhD opportunities at the University of Birmingham

Haskell on Reddit - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 3:49am

We have a number of openings for PhD study at the University of Birmingham, and we also have an imminent funding deadline, so please contact me (or any of us in the theory group at Birmingham) immediately if you're interested.

I personally am looking for students interested in designing the next generation of functional languages. You can find a fuller announcement here.

submitted by neelk
[link] [3 comments]
Categories: Incoming News

Making new Unboxed Algebraic Types? (A Repa Problem)

haskell-cafe - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 7:55pm
Hi, could someone offer som advice on handling composite types with the Repa library? I can see a /long/ way around my problem, but I wonder what is the /best/ way ... The problem is that I am trying to parallellise a probabilistic algorithm using Repa. To handle pseudo-randomness in parallel, I couple each data element with a generator state, in a tuple. The generator state is of type TFGen (tf-random package) or StdGen¹ (random package), neither of which is an Unbox instance. Hence, I have been using boxed repa arrays. The code does not execute in parallel, and if I understand correctly this is because of the Boxed type. There is a workaround², but that requires an NFData instance. To make a NFData instance and work through the code to support it should be as simple as it is tedious, but it would still leave the other drawbacks of a boxed type. (In particular, I do sequential fold because the Repa fold function did not support boxed types.) I could of course rewrite the published libraries to us
Categories: Offsite Discussion

Haskell Wiki user account creation

haskell-cafe - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 4:33pm
Hi, I read the following note at the log-in page of haskell wiki: NOTE: Automatic wiki account creation has been disabled. If you would like an account please email "nominolo" (at the email service from Google) or on the haskell-cafe mailing list. Does anyone know the exact email address I should be sending to (is it nominolo< at > Thanks, Haitham _______________________________________________ Haskell-Cafe mailing list Haskell-Cafe< at >
Categories: Offsite Discussion

ANN: rest

haskell-cafe - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 3:27pm
We at Silk are proud to announce the release of our Haskell REST framework `rest'. Please see the related blog post for more information: Cheers, Adam _______________________________________________ Haskell-Cafe mailing list Haskell-Cafe< at >
Categories: Offsite Discussion

FARM 2014 Call for Participation

General haskell list - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 12:11pm
Dear Haskell interested, Please find enclosed the call for participation in FARM 2014: 2nd ACM SIGPLAN International Workshop on Functional Art, Music, Modelling and Design, co-located with ICFP 2014v in Gothenburg, September. All the best, /Henrik ---------- FARM 2014 2nd ACM SIGPLAN International Workshop on Functional Art, Music, Modelling and Design Gothenburg, Sweden; 6 September, 2014 The ACM SIGPLAN International Workshop on Functional Art, Music, Modelling and Design (FARM) gathers together people who are harnessing functional techniques in the pursuit of creativity and expression. Functional Programming has emerged as a mainstream software development paradigm, and its artistic and creative use is booming. A growing number of software toolkits, frameworks and environments for art, music and design now employ functional programming languages and techniques. FARM is a forum for exploration and critical evaluation of these developme
Categories: Incoming News

New gtk2hs 0.12.4 release

gtk2hs - Wed, 11/21/2012 - 12:56pm

Thanks to John Lato and Duncan Coutts for the latest bugfix release! The latest packages should be buildable on GHC 7.6, and the cairo package should behave a bit nicer in ghci on Windows. Thanks to all!


Categories: Incoming News