Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Irrelevant Feature Comparison

A Real Email.
So, please consider creating a blog post w/ a title something like "Solving the Fred Flintstone Problem using Monads in Python and Haskell"
First. There's this: https://pypi.python.org/pypi/PyMonad/ and this: http://www.valuedlessons.com/2008/01/monads-in-python-with-nice-syntax.html. Also, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_class. I think this has been covered nicely.

I can't improve on what's been presented.

Second. I don't see any problems that are solved well by monads in Python. In a lazy, optimized, functional language, monads can be used bind operations into ordered sequences. This is why file parsing and file writing examples of monads abound. They can also be used to bind a number of types so that operator overloading in the presence of strict type checking can be implemented. None of this seems helpful in Python.

Perhaps monads will be helpful with Python type hints. I'll wait and see if a monad definition shows up in the typing module. There, it may be a useful tool for handling dynamic type bindings.

Third. This request is perilously close to a "head-to-head" comparison between languages. The question says "problem", but it is similar to asking to see the exact same algorithm implemented in two different languages. It makes as much sense as comparing Python's built-in complex type with Java's built-in complex type (which Java doesn't have.)

Here's the issue. I replace Fred Flintstone with "Parse JSON Notation".  This is a cool application of monads to recognize the various sub-classes of JSON syntax and emit the correctly-structured document.  See http://fssnip.net/bq/title/JSON-parsing-with-monads.  In Python, this is import json. This isn't informative about the language. If we look at the Python code, we see some operations that might be considered as eligible for a rewrite using monads. But Python isn't compiled and doesn't have the same type-checking issues. The point is that Python has alternatives to monads.

Fourth. It's just asking about a not-required feature to a language. In the spirit of showing the not-required-in-Python features, I'll show the not-required-in-Python GOTO.

Here it is:

def goto(destination):
    global next
    next = destination

def min_none(sequence):
        return min(sequence)
    except ValueError:
        return None
def execute(program, debug=False, stmt=None):
    global next, context
    if stmt is None:
        stmt = min(program.keys())
        context = {'goto': goto}
    while stmt is not None:
        next = min_none(list(filter(lambda x: x>stmt, program.keys())))
        if debug:
            print(">>>", program[stmt])
        exec(program[stmt], globals(), context)
        stmt = next
example = {
100: "a = 10",
200: "if a == 0: goto(500)",
250: "print(a)",
300: "a = a - 1",
400: "goto(200)",
500: "print('done'()",


This shows how we can concoct an additional feature that isn't really needed in Python.

Given this, we can now compare the GOTO between Python, BASIC, and Haskell. Or maybe we can look at Monads in BASIC vs. Haskell.