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An optimized pattern match and predicate dispatch library for Clojure. Currently the library only implements pattern matching. It supports Clojure 1.2.0 and later as well as ClojureScript.


The fastest way to use this library is with Leiningen or Cake. Add the following to your project.clj dependencies:

[org.clojure/core.match "0.2.0-alpha6"]

Use via:

;; when using HEAD
(use '[clojure.core.match :only [match]])

;; when using the latest released alpha
(use '[clojure.core.match.core :only [match]])


You can use match with ClojureScript by putting the match jar in $CLOJURESCRIPT_HOME/lib/. Then in your source file your namespace declaraction should look something like this:

  (:use-macros [clojure.core.match.js :only [match]]))


This library implements a pattern match compilation algorithm that uses the notion of "necessity" from lazy pattern matching.

For example the following pattern:

(let [x true
      y true
      z true]
  (match [x y z]
     [_ false true] 1
     [false true _ ] 2
     [_ _ false] 3
     [_ _ true] 4))

expands into something similar to the following:

 (= y false) (cond
              (= z false) (let [] 3)
              (= z true) (let [] 1)
              :else (throw (java.lang.Exception. "No match found.")))
 (= y true) (cond
             (= x false) (let [] 2)
             :else (cond
                    (= z false) 3
                    (= z true) 4
                    :else (throw
                            "No match found."))))
 :else (cond
        (= z false) (let [] 3)
        (= z true) (let [] 4)
        :else (throw (java.lang.Exception. "No match found."))))

Note that y gets tested first. Lazy pattern matching consistently gives compact decision trees. This means faster pattern matching. You can find out more in the top paper cited below.

Matching literals

(let [x true
      y true
      z true]
  (match [x y z]
     [_ false true] 1
     [false true _ ] 2
     [_ _ false] 3
     [_ _ true] 4))
;; => 4

Wherever you would use a wildcard you can use a binding:

(let [x 1 y 2 z 4]
  (match [x y z]
     [1 2 b] [:a0 b]
     [a 2 4] [:a1 a]))
;; => [:a0 4]

Vector matching

Vector patterns support pattern matching any data type that supports the notion of random access. Clojure's persistent vectors are supported out of the box - note however the feature is extensible to primitive arrays and even for pattern matching bits in a primitive byte.

(let [v [1 2 3]]
  (match [v]
    [[1 1 1]] :a0
    [[1 2 1]] :a1
    [[1 2 _]] :a2))
;; => :a2

Vector patterns also support the familiar rest syntax from destructuring.

(let [v [3 2 3]]
  (match [v]
    [[1 1 3]] :a0
    [[2 & r]] :a1
    [[3 & r]] :a2))
;; => :a2

It's simple to extend match to support primitive arrays so you can write the following:

(defn balance [^objects node]
  (matchv ::objects [node]
    [(:or [:black [:red [:red a x b] y c] z d]
          [:black [:red a x [:red b y c]] z d]
          [:black a x [:red [:red b y c] z d]]
          [:black a x [:red b y [:red c z d]]])] (R (B a x b) y (B c z d))))

See match.array for some ideas.

Seq matching

Seq patterns are optimized for working with sequences.

(let [x [1 2 nil nil nil]]
   (match [x]
     [([1] :seq)]   :a0
     [([1 2] :seq)] :a1
     [([1 2 nil nil nil] :seq)] :a2))
;; => :a2

Seq patterns also support the familiar rest syntax from destructuring.

(let [x '(1 2 3 4)]
  (match [x]
    [([1] :seq)] :a0
    [([_ 2 & ([a & b] :seq)] :seq)] [:a1 a b]))
;; => [:a1 3 '(4)]

Map matching

(let [x {:a 1 :b 1}]
   (match [x]
     [{:a _ :b 2}] :a0
     [{:a 1 :c _}] :a1
     [{:c 3 :d _ :e 4}] :a2))
;; => :a1

You can constrain map matching so that only maps with the exact key set will match:

(match [x]
  [({:a _ :b 2} :only [:a :b])] :a0
  [{:a 1 :c c}] :a1
  [{:c 3 :d d :e 4}] :a2)

Special Syntax

The list syntax () is reserved for special uses. It does not match a literal list.

Or Patterns, Guards and As Patterns use this syntax.

Or Patterns

Or patterns are supported anywhere you would use a pattern:

(let [x '(1 2 3)]
  (match [x]
    [[1 (:or 3 4) 3]] :a0
    [[1 (:or 2 3) 3]] :a1))
;; => :a1

(let [x {:a 3}]
  (match [x]
    [{:a (:or 1 2)}] :a0
    [{:a (:or 3 4)}] :a1))
;; => :a1


Guards are simple boolean tests. You can specify them like so:

(let [y '(2 3 4 5)]
  (match [y]
    [[_ (a :when even?) _ _]] :a0
    [[_ (b :when [odd? div3?]) _ _]] :a1))
;; => :a1

As Patterns

Sometimes you'd like capture a part of the match with a binding:

(let [v [[1 2]]]
  (match [v]
    [[[3 1]]] :a0
    [[([1 a] :as b)]] [:a1 a b]))
;; => [:a1 1 [1 2]]

Java Interop

By extending Java types to IMatchLookup, Java types can participate in map patterns:

(extend-type java.util.Date
  (val-at* [this k not-found]
    (case k
      :year    (.getYear this)
      :month   (.getMonth this)
      :date    (.getDate this)
      :hours   (.getHours this)
      :minutes (.getMinutes this)

(let [d (java.util.Date. 2010 10 1 12 30)]
  (match [d]
    [{:year 2009 :month a}] [:a0 a]
    [{:year (:or 2010 2011) :month b}] [:a1 b]))
;; => [:a1 10]

The above is a bit tedious to write so supplies a bean-match macro that can be used as follows:

(bean-match java.awt.Color)
(match [java.awt.Color/RED]
  [{:red red :green green :blue blue}] [red green blue]
  :else :error)
;; => [255 0 0]  

Note on Pattern Rows

A pattern row is delimited with [], and is not a pattern itself.

For example, this syntax is illegal:

(let [v 1]
  (match [v]
    ([1] :as w) :a0) ;; Illegal! [1] is a pattern row, not a pattern.

Matching single variables

Matching single variables is simple:

(let [x 3]
  (match x
    1 :a0
    2 :a1
    :else :a2))
;=> :a2

Note that :else clauses are special and never need to be wrapped.

Road Map

A good chunk of Maranget's algorithm for pattern matching has been implemented. We would like to flesh out the pattern matching functionality. Once that work is done, we'll move on to predicate dispatch.


The four most relevant papers:

Further reading:

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.