wiki:CompositionAsDot

Version 4 (modified by malcolm.wallace@…, 10 years ago) (diff)

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Eliminate . as an operator

In early Haskell, . was used as function composition. In later versions of Haskell, it also became used as a name qualifier.

These two uses do not fit well together, leading to special lexical rules (P11 of the report). As a test, before reading the report, can you lex the following: "f.g", "F.g", "F . g", "f..", "F..", and "F.". I couldn't. (See QualifiedIdentifiers for a related problem.)

Proposed syntaxes for RankNTypes and ExistentialQuantification also use . as a special symbol.

Proposal

Reserve . for use as a qualifier in names. Do not permit . as an operator symbol (or as a symbol character?). (Also continue to permit it as a decimal point in floats).

Pros

  • Much much simpler. Not impossible to remember.

Cons

  • We lose . as composition. Mostly this doesn't matter as $ is probably more common in reality anyway. Perhaps use `o` as infix composition instead if it is really important. Note that `o` is three characters - it would be nicer to use plain o infix, but that would require another special lexical rule. Others alternatives for composition include Unicode symbols such as centred-dot ˙, a bullet point, an unfilled bullet point, the degree sign °, the masculine ordinal indicator °, stroked circle ø, and so on. All of these resemble the mathematical symbol, and some of them are available in the Latin-1 subset.
  • We need to make a special case of .. in the [m .. n] case.