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Talk given at the Sydney Clojure User group in February 2014

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- 1. Monads in Clojure Or why burritos shouldn’t be scary [I] Leonardo Borges @leonardo_borges www.leonardoborges.com www.thoughtworks.com [I] http://blog.plover.com/prog/burritos.html Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 2. Monads in Clojure The plan: Type Signatures in Haskell The Monad Type Class A few useful monads This presentation is a super condensed version of my blog post series on monads [II] [II] http://bit.ly/monads-part-i Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 3. Prelude Type signatures in Haskell Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 4. Type signatures in Haskell Vectors as maps import qualified Data.Map as Map -- just giving Data.Map an alias mkVec :: a -> a -> Map.Map [Char] a -- this is the type signature This is a function of two arguments of type a Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 5. Type signatures in Haskell Vectors as maps import qualified Data.Map as Map -- just giving Data.Map an alias mkVec :: a -> a -> Map.Map [Char] a -- this is the type signature It returns a Map where keys are of type [Char] and values are of type a Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 6. Type signatures in Haskell Vectors as maps import qualified Data.Map as Map -- just giving Data.Map an alias mkVec :: a -> a -> Map.Map [Char] a -- this is the type signature mkVec x y = Map.fromList [("x", x), ("y", y)] -- this is the implementation. You can ignore this part. -- using it myVec = mkVec 10 15 Map.lookup "x" myVec -- Just 10 Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 7. Type signatures in Haskell Multiplication (*) :: Num a => a -> a -> a This is also a function of two arguments of type a Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 8. Type signatures in Haskell Multiplication Num a is a type constraint (*) :: Num a => a -> a -> a In this case, the type constraint tells the compiler that (*)works on any value a as long as a is an instance of Num Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 9. Monads what on earth are they? They’re simply an abstraction ...with a funny name to confuse people. Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 10. Monads what on earth are they? They are not however.... ... a burrito ... an elephant ... a space suit ... or a writing desk. Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 11. Monads what on earth are they? Every monad has an associated “context” It can be useful to think of them as “wrapping” some value Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 12. The Monad Type Class class Monad m where return :: a -> m a (>>=) :: m a -> (a -> m b) -> m b (>>) :: m a -> m b -> m b x >> y = x >>= _ -> y Let’s understand those type signatures! Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 13. The Monad Type Class return :: a -> m a Single argument of type a Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 14. The Monad Type Class return :: a -> m a returns a in a “context” m Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 15. The Monad Type Class return :: a -> m a This is how we turn plain values into monadic values Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 16. The Monad Type Class return :: a -> m a return is an unfortunate name as it is confusing. It has nothing to do with the return keywords in languages like Java. return is sometimes called unit Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 17. The Monad Type Class (>>=) :: m a -> (a -> m b) -> m b >>= Tuesday, 4 March 14 is pronounced bind and takes two arguments
- 18. The Monad Type Class (>>=) :: m a -> (a -> m b) -> m b A monad Tuesday, 4 March 14 m a
- 19. The Monad Type Class (>>=) :: m a -> (a -> m b) -> m b and a function from values of type a to monads of type m Tuesday, 4 March 14 b
- 20. The Monad Type Class (>>=) :: m a -> (a -> m b) -> m b Somehow each monad knows how to extract values from its context and “bind” them to the given function Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 21. The Monad Type Class (>>=) :: m a -> (a -> m b) -> m b and it returns b in a “context” m Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 22. The Monad Type Class (>>) :: m a -> m b -> m b x >> y = x >>= _ -> y You can work out the type signature all by yourself now :) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 23. The Monad Type Class (>>) :: m a -> m b -> m b x >> y = x >>= _ -> y >> is pronounced then and includes a default implementation in terms of bind Tuesday, 4 March 14 (>>=)
- 24. The Monad Type Class (>>) :: m a -> m b -> m b x >> y = x >>= _ -> y Its second argument to bind is a function which ignores its argument Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 25. The Monad Type Class (>>) :: m a -> m b -> m b x >> y = x >>= _ -> y It simply returns the value yielded by “unwrapping” the context of y Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 26. Example I Calculating all combinations between elements of two lists using the list monad combinations :: [(Int,Int)] combinations = [1, 2, 3] >>= a -> [4, 5] >>= b -> return (a,b) -- [(1,4),(1,5),(2,4),(2,5),(3,4),(3,5)] Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 27. Example I Calculating all combinations between elements of two lists using the list monad meh. It’s damn hard to read. And we don’t want to type that much. There’s a better way Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 28. Example I Calculating all combinations between elements of two lists using the list monad (using do notation) combinations' :: [(Int,Int)] combinations' = do a <- [1, 2, 3] b <- [4, 5] return (a,b) -- [(1,4),(1,5),(2,4),(2,5),(3,4),(3,5)] Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 29. You’ve just seen your ﬁrst monad, the list monad! Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 30. The Monad Type Class * As if it worked for lists only class Monad [] where return :: a -> [a] (>>=) :: [a] -> (a -> [b]) -> [b] (>>) :: [a] -> [b] -> [b] * this isn’t valid Haskell. It’s just to illustrate the concept Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 31. Now let’s learn how it does its thing... ...in Clojure! Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 32. The List Monad Let’s do it together (def list-m { :return (fn [v] ... :bind (fn [mv f] ... }) Tuesday, 4 March 14 ) )
- 33. The List Monad Let’s do it together (def list-m { :return (fn [v] (list v)) :bind (fn [mv f] ... ) }) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 34. The List Monad Let’s do it together (def list-m { :return (fn [v] (list v)) :bind (fn [mv f] (mapcat f mv)) }) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 35. The List Monad Now we’re ready to use it (defn combinations [] (let [bind (:bind list-m) return (:return list-m)] (bind [1 2 3] (fn [a] (bind [4 5] (fn [b] (return [a b]))))))) ;; ([1 4] [1 5] [2 4] [2 5] [3 4] [3 5]) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 36. The List Monad Now we’re ready to use it ugh. Just as ugly. But we know there’s a better way. Can we use the do notation in Clojure? Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 37. Macros to the rescue Haskell’s do notation in Clojure (defn m-steps [m [name val & bindings] body] (if (seq bindings) `(-> ~val ((:bind ~m) (fn [~name] ~(m-steps m bindings body)))) `(-> ~val ((:bind ~m) (fn [~name] ((:return ~m) ~body)))))) (defmacro do-m [m bindings body] (m-steps m bindings body)) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 38. Macros to the rescue Haskell’s do notation in Clojure Ignore the implementation. You can study it later :) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 39. The List Monad Now we’re ready to use it (defn combinations [] (do-m list-m [a [1 2 3] b [4 5]] [a b])) ;; ([1 4] [1 5] [2 4] [2 5] [3 4] [3 5]) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 40. Familiar? List comprehension (defn combinations [] (for [a [1 2 3] b [4 5]] [a b])) ;; ([1 4] [1 5] [2 4] [2 5] [3 4] [3 5]) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 41. Example II Adding two numbers (defn add [a b] (+ a b)) (add 1 2) ;; 3 (add 1 nil) ;; NullPointerException Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 42. Example II [Maybe]Adding two numbers (defn m-add [ma mb] (do-m maybe-m [a ma b mb] (+ a b))) (m-add 1 2) ;; 3 (m-add nil 1) ;; nil Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 43. The Maybe Monad Again, everyone together (def maybe-m { :return (fn [v] ...) :bind (fn [mv f] ... ) }) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 44. The Maybe Monad Again, everyone together (def maybe-m { :return (fn [v] v) :bind (fn [mv f] ... ) }) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 45. The Maybe Monad Again, everyone together (def maybe-m { :return (fn [v] v) :bind (fn [mv f] (when mv (f mv))) }) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 46. Not too bad, huh? Ready for more? Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 47. Example III Application conﬁguration (defn connect-to-db [env] (let [db-uri (:db-uri env)] (prn (format "Connected to db at %s" db-uri)))) (defn connect-to-api [env] (let [api-key (:api-key env) env (ask)] (prn (format "Connected to api with key %s" api-key)))) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 48. Example III Application conﬁguration (defn run-app [env] (do (connect-to-db env) (connect-to-api env) "Done.")) (run-app {:db-uri "user:passwd@host/dbname" :api-key "AF167"}) ;; "Connected to db at user:passwd@host/dbname" ;; "Connected to api with key AF167" ;; "Done." Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 49. Example III Application conﬁguration Passing env on to every single function that depends on it can be cumbersome. Obviously we don’t want to resort to global vars. Can monads help? Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 50. Example III Application conﬁguration with the Reader Monad (defn connect-to-db [] (do-m reader-m [db-uri (asks :db-uri)] (prn (format "Connected to db at %s" db-uri)))) (defn connect-to-api [] (do-m reader-m [api-key (asks :api-key) env (ask)] (prn (format "Connected to api with key %s" api-key)))) Bear with me for now. These will be explained soon. Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 51. Example III Application conﬁguration with the Reader Monad (defn run-app [] (do-m reader-m [_ (m-connect-to-db) _ (m-connect-to-api)] (prn "Done."))) Note the env parameter disappeared. The Reader monad somehow feeds that into our functions. ((run-app) {:db-uri "user:passwd@host/dbname" :api-key "AF167"}) ;; "Connected to db at user:passwd@host/dbname" ;; "Connected to api with key AF167" ;; "Done." Also this is now a function call as run-app is now pure Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 52. Example III Application conﬁguration with the Reader Monad But, how how does it work?! Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 53. The Reader Monad Tricky one, but not that tricky (defn ask [] identity) (defn asks [f] (fn [env] (f env))) The function names come from Haskell. They are deﬁned in the MonadReader type class. Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 54. The Reader Monad Tricky one, but not that tricky (def reader-m {:return (fn [a] (fn [_] a)) :bind (fn [m k] (fn [r] ((k (m r)) r)))}) There’s a lot going on in bind. Let’s unravel it. Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 55. The Reader Monad Expanding connect-to-db This: (defn connect-to-db [] (do-m reader-m [db-uri (asks :db-uri)] (prn (format "Connected to db at %s" db-uri)))) Expands into: ((:bind reader-m) (asks :db-uri) (fn* ([db-uri] ((:return reader-m) (prn "Connected to db at " db-uri))))) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 56. The Reader Monad Expanding connect-to-db (def reader-m {:return (fn [a] (fn [_] a)) :bind (fn [m k] (fn [r] ((k (m r)) r)))}) (let [m (fn [env] (:db-uri env)) k (fn* ([db-uri] ((:return reader-m) (prn "Connected to db at " db-uri))))] ((fn [r] ((k (m r)) r)) {:db-uri "user:passwd@host/dbname" :api-key "AF167"})) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 57. The Reader Monad Expanding connect-to-db (def reader-m {:return (fn [a] (fn [_] a)) :bind (fn [m k] (fn [r] ((k (m r)) r)))}) (let [m (fn [env] (:db-uri env)) k (fn* ([db-uri] ((:return reader-m) (prn "Connected to db at " db-uri))))] (let [r {:db-uri "user:passwd@host/dbname" :api-key "AF167"}] ((k (m r)) r))) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 58. The Reader Monad Expanding connect-to-db (def reader-m {:return (fn [a] (fn [_] a)) :bind (fn [m k] (fn [r] ((k (m r)) r)))}) (let [m (fn [env] (:db-uri env)) k (fn* ([db-uri] ((:return reader-m) (prn "Connected to db at " db-uri))))] (let [r {:db-uri "user:passwd@host/dbname" :api-key "AF167"}] ((k "user:passwd@host/dbname") r))) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 59. The Reader Monad Expanding connect-to-db (def reader-m {:return (fn [a] (fn [_] a)) :bind (fn [m k] (fn [r] ((k (m r)) r)))}) (let [m (fn [env] (:db-uri env)) k (fn* ([db-uri] ((:return reader-m) nil)))] (let [r {:db-uri "user:passwd@host/dbname" :api-key "AF167"}] ((k "user:passwd@host/dbname") r))) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 60. The Reader Monad Expanding connect-to-db (def reader-m {:return (fn [a] (fn [_] a)) :bind (fn [m k] (fn [r] ((k (m r)) r)))}) (let [m (fn [env] (:db-uri env)) k (fn* ([db-uri] ((fn [a] (fn [_] a) nil)))] (let [r {:db-uri "user:passwd@host/dbname" :api-key "AF167"}] ((k "user:passwd@host/dbname") r))) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 61. The Reader Monad Expanding connect-to-db (def reader-m {:return (fn [a] (fn [_] a)) :bind (fn [m k] (fn [r] ((k (m r)) r)))}) (let [m (fn [env] (:db-uri env)) k (fn* ([db-uri] ((fn [a] (fn [_] a) nil)))] (let [r {:db-uri "user:passwd@host/dbname" :api-key "AF167"}] ((fn [_] nil) r))) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 62. The Reader Monad Expanding connect-to-db (def reader-m {:return (fn [a] (fn [_] a)) :bind (fn [m k] (fn [r] ((k (m r)) r)))}) (let [m (fn [env] (:db-uri env)) k (fn* ([db-uri] ((fn [a] (fn [_] a) nil)))] (let [r {:db-uri "user:passwd@host/dbname" :api-key "AF167"}] nil)) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 63. The Reader Monad Simple, right? :) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 64. Example IV Dependency Injection (require '[app.repository :as repository]) (defn clone! [id user] (let [old-user (repository/fetch-by-id id {}) cloned-user (repository/create! (compute-clone old-user) user) updated-user (assoc old-user :clone-id (:id cloned-user))] (repository/update! old-user updated-user user))) See the problem? Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 65. Example IV Dependency Injection: the problem • clone! is tightly coupled to the repository namespace • It can’t be tested in isolation without resorting to heavy mocking of the involved functions • It’s limited to a single repository implementation - makes experimenting at the REPL harder • ... Basically, good software engineering principles apply Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 66. Example IV Dependency Injection using the Reader Monad Let’s start by turning our repository into a module that can be injected into our function Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 67. Example IV Dependency Injection using the Reader Monad There’s a couple of ways in which we can do that I’ll use protocols as they have added performance beneﬁts Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 68. Example IV Dependency Injection using the Reader Monad (defprotocol UserRepository (fetch-by-id! [this id]) (create! [this user username]) (update! [this old-user new-user username])) (defn mk-user-repo [] (reify UserRepository (fetch-by-id! [this id] (prn "Fetched user id " id)) (create! [this user username] (prn "Create user triggered by " username)) (update! [this old-user new-user username] (prn "Updated user triggered by " username)))) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 69. Example IV Dependency Injection using the Reader Monad Remember: One of the advantages of the reader monad is not having to pass parameters around to every single function that needs it Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 70. Example IV Dependency Injection using the Reader Monad With that in mind, let’s rewrite clone! Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 71. Example IV Dependency Injection using the Reader Monad It can be helpful to think of clone as having this type signature: ;; clone! :: Number -> String -> Reader UserRepository Number (defn clone! [id user] (do-m reader-m [repo (ask)] (let [old-user (fetch-by-id! repo id) cloned-user (create! repo (compute-clone old-user) user) updated-user (assoc old-user :clone-id (:id cloned-user))] (update! repo old-user updated-user user)))) Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 72. Example IV Dependency Injection using the Reader Monad And this is how we might use it: (defn run-clone [] (do-m reader-m [_ (clone! 10 "leo")] (prn "Cloned."))) ((run-clone) (mk-user-repo)) ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; Tuesday, 4 March 14 "Fetched user id " 10 "Compute clone for user" "Create user triggered by " "leo" "Updated user triggered by " "leo" "Cloned."
- 73. The Reader Monad A few observations from a clojure perspective • Useful abstraction for computations that read values from a shared environment • As we saw, it has multiple use cases such as conﬁguration and dependency injection • I’ve cheated in the examples: • Each function using the reader monad also performed IO - via prn • In Haskell, IO is a monad so we would need to use monad transformers to compose them - beyond the scope of this presentation Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 74. Monads: Summary • Lots of useful abstractions through a common interface • Some monads, such as Maybe and Either, are a lot more powerful in a statically typed language like Haskell or Scala due to its usage being encoded in the type system, as well as native support to pattern matching • Others, such as the Reader monad, can be very useful in a dynamic setting - though you don’t have the type system to tell you when you stuff up at compile time • In such cases, type annotations in comments can be useful Tuesday, 4 March 14
- 75. Questions? Leonardo Borges @leonardo_borges www.leonardoborges.com www.thoughtworks.com Tuesday, 4 March 14

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