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LGtk/Semantics

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The semantics of LGtk is given by a reference implementation. The reference implementation is given in three stages: lenses, references and effects.

Contents

1 Lenses

LGtk uses simple lenses defined in the data-lens package:

newtype Lens a b = Lens { runLens :: a -> Store b a }
This data type is isomorphic to
(a -> b, b -> a -> a)
, the well-know lens data type. The isomorphism is established by the following operations:
getL :: Lens a b -> a -> b
setL :: Lens a b -> b -> a -> a
lens :: (a -> b) -> (b -> a -> a) -> Lens a b

1.1 Lens laws

The three well-known laws for lenses:

  • get-set:
    set k (get k a) a
    ===
    a
  • set-get:
    get k (set k b a)
    ===
    b
  • set-set:
    set k b2 (set k b1 a)
    ===
    set k b2 a

Impure lenses, i.e. lenses which brake lens laws are allowed in certain places. Those places are explicitly marked and explained in this overview.

2 References

2.1 Motivation

Let
s :: *
be a type. Consider the three types
Lens s :: * -> *
,
State s :: * -> *
,
Reader s :: * -> *
with their type class instances and operations. This structure is useful in practice (see this use case).

We have the following goals:

  • Define a structure similar to
    (Lens s, State s, Reader s)
    in which
    s
    is not accessable.
  • Extend the defined structure with operations which help modularity.

The first goal is justified by our solution for the second goal. The second goal is justified by the fact that a global state is not convenient to maintain explicitly.

2.2 Types

We keep the types
(Lens s, State s, Reader s)
but give them a more restricted API. There are several ways to do this in Haskell. LGtk defines type classes with associated types, but that is just a technical detail.

Instead of giving a concrete implementation in Haskell, suppose that

  • s
    is a fixed arbitrary type,
  • Ref :: * -> *
    ~
    Lens s
    ; references are lenses from
    s
    to the type of the referred value,
  • R :: * -> *
    ~
    Reader s
    ; the reference reading monad is the reader monad over
    s
    ,
  • M :: * -> *
    ~
    State s
    ; the reference modifying monad is the state monad over
    s
    .

The three equality constraints are not exposed in the API, of course.

2.3 Operations

Exposed operations of
Ref
,
R
and
M
are the following:
  • The
    Monad
    instance of
    R
    and
    M
  • The monad morphism between
    R
    and
    M
liftReadPart :: R a -> M a
liftReadPart = gets . runReader
  • Reference read
readRef :: Ref a -> R a
readRef = reader . getL
  • Reference write
writeRef :: Ref a -> a -> M ()
writeRef = modify . setL r
  • Lens application on a reference
lensMap :: Lens a b -> Ref a -> Ref b
lensMap = (.)
  • Reference join
joinRef :: R (Ref a) -> Ref a
joinRef = Lens . join . (runLens .) . runReader
  • The unit reference
unitRef :: Ref ()
unitRef = lens (const ()) (const id)
Note that the identity lens is not a reference because that would leak the program state
s
.

2.4 Reference creation

New reference creation is our first operation wich helps modularity.

New reference creation with a given initial value extends the state. For example, if the state is
(1, 'c') :: (Int, Char)
, extending the state with
True :: Bool
would yield the state
(True, (1, 'c')) :: (Bool, (Int, Char))
.

We could model the type change of the state with an indexed monad, but that would complicate both the API and the implementation too.

Instead of changing the type of the state, we use an extensible state, an abstract data type
S
with the operations
empty :: S
extend :: a -> State S (Lens S a)

such that the following laws hold:

  • extend v >> return ()
    ===
    return ()
  • extend v >>= liftReadPart . readRef
    ===
    return v
The first law sais that
extend
has no side-effect, i.e. extending the state does not change the values of existing references. The second law sais that extending the state with value
v
creates a reference with inital value
v
.

Question: Is there a data type with such operations?

The answer is yes, but we should guarantee linear usage of the state. The (constructive) existence proof is given in the next section.

Linear usage of state is guaranteed with the above refereces API (check the definitions), which means that we have a solution.

Can this extensible state be implemented efficiently? Although this question is not relevant for the semantics, we will see that there is an efficient implementation with
MVar
s (TODO).

2.4.1 Reference creation API

Let
S
be an extensible state as specified above. Let
s
=
S
in the definition of references.
  • C :: (* -> *) -> * -> *
    ~
    StateT S
    , the reference creating monad, is the state monad transformer over
    S
    .

The equality constraint is not exposed in the API. The following functions are exposed:

  • New reference creation
newRef :: Monad m => a -> C m (Ref a)
newRef v = mapStateT (return . runIdentity) $ extend v
  • Lift reference modifying operations
liftWrite :: Monad m => M a -> C m a
liftWrite = mapStateT (return . runIdentity)
  • Derived
    MonadTrans
    instance of
    C
    to be able to lift operations in the
    m
    monad.
Note that
C
is parameterized by a monad because in this way it is easier to add other effects later.

2.5 Running

The API is completed with the following function:

  • Run the reference creation monad
runC :: Monad m => C m a -> m a
runC x = runStateT x empty

2.6 Lens-stacks

2.6.1 Motivation

We can extend the state in an independent way (the new state piece is independent from the others). This may not be enough for modular design.

Suppose that we have a reference
r :: Ref (Maybe Int)
and we would like to expose an editor of it to the user. The exposed editor would contains a checkbox and an integer entry field. If the checkbox is unchecked,
r
should be
Nothing
, otherwise it should be
Just i
where
i
is the value of the entry field.

The problem is that we cannot remember the value of the entry field if the checkbox is unchecked! Lens-stacks give a nice solution to this problem.

2.6.2 Low-level API

Let's begin with the API. Suppose that we have an abstract data type
S
with the following operations:
empty :: S
extend' :: Lens S b -> Lens a b -> a -> State S (Lens S a)

such that the following laws hold:

  • Law 1:
    extend'
    has no side-effect:
extend' r k a0 >> return ()
===
return ()
  • Law 2:
    k
    applied on the result of
    extend' r k a0
    behaves as
    r
    :
liftM (k .) $ extend' r k a0
===
return r
  • Law 3: Initialization of the newly defined reference:
extend' r k a0 >>= readRef
===
readRef r >>= setL k a0

2.6.3 Usage

Law 2 is the most interesting, it sais that we can apply a lens backwards with
extend'
. Backward lens application can introduce dependent local state.

Consider the following pure lens:

maybeLens :: Lens (Bool, a) (Maybe a)
maybeLens
  = lens (\(b, a) -> if b then Just a else Nothing)
         (\x (_, a) -> maybe (False, a) (\a' -> (True, a')) x)
Suppose that we have a reference
r :: Lens S (Maybe Int)
. Consider the following operation:
extend' r maybeLens (False, 0)
This operations returns
q :: Lens S (Bool, Int)
. If we connect
fstLens q
to a checkbox and
sndLens q
to an integer entry field, we get the expected behaviour as described in the motivation.
extend'
introduces a dependent local state because
q
is automatically updated if
r
changes (and vice-versa).

Backward lens application can solve several long-standing problems with lenses, but it is another story to show that.

2.6.4 References API

Let
S
be an extensible state as specified above. Let
s
=
S
in the definition of references.
  • C :: (* -> *) -> * -> *
    ~
    StateT S
    , the reference creating monad, is the state monad transformer over
    S
    .

The equality constraint is not exposed in the API. The following functions are exposed:

  • Dependent new reference creation
extRef :: Monad m => Ref b -> Lens a b -> a -> C m (Ref a)
extRef r k a0 = mapStateT (return . runIdentity) $ extend' r k a0
  • Lift reference modifying operations
liftWrite :: Monad m => M a -> C m a
liftWrite = mapStateT (return . runIdentity)
  • Derived
    MonadTrans
    instance of
    C
    to be able to lift operations in the
    m
    monad.
Note that
newRef
can be defined in terms of
extRef
so
extRef
is more expressive than
newRef
:
newRef :: Monad m => a -> C m (Ref a)
newRef = extRef unitRef (lens (const ()) (const id))


2.6.5 Implementation

We prove constructively, by giving a reference implementation, that
S
exists. With this we also prove that
S
defined in the previous section exists because
extend
can be defined in terms of
extend'
(easy exercise: give the definition).

Reference implementation:

Let
Chain a b
be the type of lens-chains, the lists of lenses where neighbouring lenses can be composed (the domain of each lens matches the codomain of the previous lens), the domain of the first lens is
a
and the codomain of the last lens is
b
.

Auxiliary functions:

chainToLens :: Chain a b -> Lens a b
chainToLens = ...
The definition of
S
(an existentional type):
type S = forall a
       . S { value :: a
           , chain :: Chain a ()
           }
Definition of
empty
:
empty :: S
empty = S () []
Definition of
extend'
:
extend' :: Lens S b -> Lens a b -> a -> State S (Lens S a)
extend' r1 r2 a0 = state f  where
 
    r21 = setL r1 . getL r2
    r12 = setL r2 . getL r1
 
    f x0@(S value0 chain0)
        = ( k' . chainToLens (take (length chain - length chain0) chain)
          , S (r12 x0 a0, value0) (k : chain0)
          )
      where
        k  = lens snd $ \x (a, _) -> (r12 x a, x)
        k' = lens fst $ \a (_, x) -> (a, r21 a x)
The code does not type-check. However, if we suppose that values of
S
are used linearly, types will match at runtime. This means that
unsafeCoerce
can be used safely to force the Haskell compiler to accept the code.

TODO: more explanation of the code

3 Effects

TODO