This is a proposal (formerly named pattern families) for extending pattern synonyms (PatternSynonyms) allowing patterns to depend on terms. The implementation is a straightforward desugaring into pattern synonyms and view patterns (ViewPatterns) so familiarity with those two extensions is recommended before reading the proposal.

The ticket associated with this design is #9671.

The simplest use case is checking whether a set contains a value:

-- Normal Haskell
answer :: Set Int -> String
answer set = case member 42 set of
  True  -> "We know the answer"
  False -> "Never mind."

-- Using view patterns
answer :: Set Int -> String
answer (member 42 -> True)  = "We know the answer"
answer (member 42 -> False) = "Never mind."

With this extension we could define patterns that check for containment:

pattern IsMember  val <- (member val -> True)
pattern NotMember val <- (member val -> False)

-- With extension
answer :: Set Int -> String
answer (IsMember  42) = "We know the answer"
answer (NotMember 42) = "Never mind."

This allows us to avoid pattern matching on the Boolean result of member. In the case of IsMember (and NotMember) the argument val flows into the view pattern as indicated by this figure:

Let's consider a similar example with a Map where we want to look up a value based on some key:

-- Normal Haskell
addressAlice :: Map Name Address -> Either String Address
addressAlice people = case lookup "Alice" people of
  Just address -> Right address
  Nothing      -> Left "Alice's address not found."

With the extension we define a pattern that only succeeds if lookup returns a value wrapped in Just which feeds that value back into the pattern:

pattern Lookup     key val <- (lookup key -> Just val)
pattern LookupFail key     <- (lookup key -> Nothing)

-- With extension
addressAlice :: Map Name Address -> Either String Address
addressAlice (Lookup "Alice" address) = Right address
addressAlice _                        = Left "Alice's address not found."

where the key "Alice" is used in the view pattern expression and the resulting value is made available in the pattern main pattern:

Now we don't have to unnecessarily give a name to an argument (like people) like with view patterns but unlike view patterns we don't need to mention to Bool and Maybe success result values of member and lookup. These kinds of patterns also nest arbitrarily without too much noise:

foo :: Map Person (Map Receptacle (Set Items)) -> Status
foo = \case
  Lookup "Bob" (Lookup Pocket (IsMember  Keys)) -> HasKeys
  Lookup "Bob" (Lookup Pocket (NotMember Keys)) -> NoKeys
  Lookup "Bob" (LookupFail Pocket)              -> NoPocket
  LookupFail "Bob"                              -> Failure "No Bob"

Another simple example is the Between pattern that matches a particular range (a feature built into Rust):

import Data.Ix

pattern Between from to <- (inRange (from, to) -> True)

-- A teenager is between thirteen and nineteen.
-- `Between 13 19` would be `13..19` in Rust.
isTeen :: Age -> Bool
isTeen (Between 13 19) = True
isTeen _               = False

that gets transformed into:

isTeen :: Age -> Bool
isTeen (inRange (13, 19) -> True) = True
isTeen _                          = False

Between will work on any indexable type (Ix a => a):

generalCategory' :: Char -> GeneralCategory 
generalCategory' = \case
  Between '\x00' '\x16' -> Control
  Between 'a'    'z'    -> LowercaseLetter
  Between 'A'    'Z'    -> UppercaseLetter
  Between '0'    '9'    -> DecimalNumber


The syntax from PatternSynonyms can be reused for simplicity:

pattern Lookup key value <- (lookup key -> Just value)

here value is a normal variable as in PatternSynonyms but key is some term the view pattern is indexed by: this can be inferred from it appearing in the ViewPatterns expression (lookup key) rather than in the pattern (Just value).

The function fn:

fn :: Map String Int -> Int
fn (Lookup "five" n) = n
ghci> fn (Map.fromList [("four", 4), ("five", 5)]

is the same as writing fn (lookup "five" -> Just n) = n using view patterns.


A simple grammar would then be

pattern conid varid1 .. varidn <- (expr -> pat)

where each varidi must be free in either expr or pat.

Dynamic semantics (Desugaring)

More concretely, a pattern definition has the form:

pattern conid [evaridi, pvaridj] <- (expr -> pat)

where [evaridi, pvaridj] denotes some interleaving of variables that appear in expr or pat. When matched against, all evaridi must be instantiated with expresions expri:

fn (conid [expri, pvaridj]) = result

where pvaridj may appear in result as in usual patterns. This then gets translated into the following view pattern:

fn (expr[evaridi := expri] -> pat) = result

For the simple example of the pattern family Take this (where 3 is expr1 and xs is pval1):

foo (Lookup "five" n) = n + n

would get translated to:

foo (lookup "five" -> Just n) = n + n

which is the same as:

foo ys = case lookup "five" n of
  Just n -> n + n

Static semantics (Typing)

If expr in the view pattern is an expression of type t with free variables evaridi of type ti then an expri used to instantiate the corresponding evaridi must have a type ui that unifies with ti, the final expression expr will have type t. Otherwise same typing and scoping rules as ViewPatterns.

Motivating examples


Example from ViewPatternsAlternative:

module Set(Set, empty, insert, delete, has) where

newtype Set a = S [a]
has :: Eq a => a -> Set a -> Maybe (Set a)
has x (S xs) | x `elem` xs = Just (S (xs \\ [x]))
             | otherwise   = Nothing

Using patterns indexed by an element of Set a:

pattern Has    x set <- (has x        -> Just set)
pattern HasNot x set <- (has x &&& id -> (Nothing, set))

One can write:

delete :: Eq a => a -> Set a -> Set a
delete x (Has x set) = set
delete x set         = set

insert :: Eq a => a -> Set a -> Set a
insert x (HasNot x (S xs)) = S (x:xs)
insert x set               = set

Compare that to the the ViewPatternsAlternative proposal:

delete :: Eq a => a -> Set a -> Set a
delete x (r | Just s <- has r) = set
delete x set                   = set
insert :: Eq a => a -> Set a -> Set a
insert x (s | Just _ <- has x s) = set
insert x (S xs)                  = S (x:xs)

Where the user has to worry about matching on Justs.

Erlang-style parsing

Another example stolen from ViewPatternsAlternative where the benefits are more apparent. Given a parsing function:

-- (bits n bs) parses n bits from the front of bs, returning
-- the n-bit Word, and the remainder of bs

bits :: Int -> ByteString -> Maybe (Word, ByteString)

and using the following pattern family:

pattern Bits n val bs <- (bits n -> Just (val, bs))

one can write a pattern like this:

parsePacket :: ByteString -> _
parsePacket (Bits 3 n (Bits n val bs)) = _

Where we can nest pattern families, more examples of nesting follow in the more advanced examples below. Compare that to the more verbose ViewPatternsAlternative version:

parsePacket :: ByteString -> _
parsePacket (p1 |  Just (n, (p2 | Just (val, bs) <- bits n p2)) <- bits 3 p1) = _

N+k patterns

Another one from ViewPatternsAlternative using the following view and pattern family:

np :: Num a => a -> a -> Maybe a
np k n | k <= n    = Just (n-k)
       | otherwise = Nothing

pattern NP k n <- (np k -> Just n)

Used as follows:

fib :: Num a -> a -> a
fib 0        = 1
fib 1        = 1
fib (NP 2 n) = fib (n + 1) + fib n

Compare ViewPatternsAlternative version:

fib :: Num a -> a -> a
fib 0 = 1
fib 1 = 1
fib (n2 | let n = n2-2, n >= 0) = fib (n + 1) + fib n

Type checking

From Bidirectional Typing Rules: A Tutorial:

inferType ctx (If t1 t2 t3) = case (inferType ctx t1, inferType ctx t2, inferType ctx t3) of
  (Just BoolT, Just ty2, Just ty3) -> 
    if ty2 = ty3 
    then Just ty2
    else Nothing
  _ -> Nothing

could be rewritten using pattern families as:

-- Here ‘Inf’ is a family indexed by ‘ctx’
pattern Inf ctx ty <- (inferType ctx -> Just ty)

inferType ctx (If (Inf ctx BoolT) (Inf ctx ty1) (Inf ctx ty2))
   | ty1 == ty2 = Just ty1
inferType ctx If{} = Nothing

allowing the user to pattern match directly on the inferable types without manually checking for Justs — note the use of the previous argument ctx to index later. This could currently be written somewhat awkwardly using view patterns:

inferType ctx (If (inferType ctx -> Just BoolT) (inferType ctx -> Just ty1) (inferType ctx -> Just ty2))
  | ty1 == ty2 = Just ty1
inferType ctx If{} = Nothing

which is longer and clunkier, especially since the user is forced to deal with Justs again.

Again one could use operators (:⇒ = Inf) in which case it the examples follow notation in type theory more closely:

inferType γ (If (γ : BoolT) (γ : τ₁) (γ : τ₂)) = ...

More advanced examples: Regular expressions

Given a regular expression operator (~=) :: String -> String -> Maybe [String] we can define a pattern:

pattern Match x regexp <- ((~= regexp) -> Just x)

where regexp is indexes the Match pattern family:

firstWord (Match words "[a-zA-Z]+") = words
firstWord _                         = error "No words found"


vowels (Match vwls "[aeiou]") = length vwls

As an operator:

pattern x :~= regexp <- ((~= regexp) -> Just x)

More advanced examples: Prism patterns

Matching a simple prism

Indexing patterns with prisms from Control.Lens.Prism:

import Control.Lens.Prism

pattern Match prism a <- (preview prism -> Just a)

one can write

bar :: Either c (Either a b) -> a
bar (Match (_Right._Left) a) = a
bar _                        = error "..."

More complicated prisms

Pattern families can be used to match nested data like JSON, ASTs or XML, here is an example of using it to match on Data.Aeson.Lens:

jsonBlob = "[{\"someObject\": {\"version\": [1,0,3]}}]"
-- val = Number 0.0
val = jsonBlob ^?! nth 0 . key "someObject" . key "version" . nth 1

Pattern families allow us to say we want to fetch the same value as val using patterns:

foo (Match (nth 0) (Match (key "someObject") (Match (key "version") (Match (nth 1) a)))) = a

Which is terribly verbose, but can be improved by introducing:

pattern Get i   a <- (preview (nth i)   -> Just a)
pattern Key str a <- (preview (key str) -> Just a)

baz (Get 0 (Key "someObject" (Key "version" (Get 1 a)))) = a

or by writing it infix:

baz (0 `Get` "someObject" `Key` "version" `Key` 1 `Get` a) = a

or by defining operators :→ = Get i a and :⇒ = Key:

baz (a : "someObject" : "version" : 1 : a) = a
Last modified 8 months ago Last modified on Mar 21, 2017 10:03:50 AM

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