Numbers in Elvish, like
This approach actually works pretty well in Elvish, and causes few problems or surprises, as long as the programmer stays within Elvish land.
However, there is one area that this approach falls short: interoperability with serialization formats that do have number types - that is to say, most of them. As a result, it is not possible to convert JSON to Elvish value and back to JSON and get exactly the same thing, because JSON numbers are converted to Elvish strings. A simple example:
To solve this problem, the best approach so far would be to introduce explicit number types for the sake of interoperability. Let's say that we introduce a
Because it is common to manipulate the data and JSON and then output back, all the builtin math functions should also output explicitly typed numbers, when at least one of their arguments are explicitly typed numbers. Yet, to retain the old behavior, when all of the arguments are strings, the output should still be a string. Examples:
It is worth stressing that the use of the explicit number type is entirely optional for code that stays within the "Elvish value universe". This is because all of the math functions will continue to accept string arguments, and output strings when all arguments are strings. One does not need to even know the existence of explicit number types.
Another interesting potential in future is to introduce perhaps not only one number type, but many number types, in order to interoperate with formats that distinguish (for instance) integers and floating-point numbers. All of those types will still be entirely optional, however.
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I would suggest different semantics -- everything stays stringly upfront, but behind the scenes every value gets converted to the type most suited to the current operation and stays that way until a different type is needed. Since basically every value has a canonical string representation anyways. That is what TCL wound up having to do to get good performance in their everything-is-a-string world
This is how Elvish behaves now. It doesn't solve the problem of JSON interoperability.
I have researched Tcl's solution, and the answer is that Tcl does not have a solution: writing JSON from Tcl-native values requires a schema specifying the type of each field.
Float64 values are printed like (float64 42). However, the float64 builtin does not actually exist yet, and builtin math functions do not accept float64 arguments either. However, after this CL, from-json | to-json is now an identity operator. Previously: ~> echo '' | from-json | to-json ["1"] Now: ~> echo '' | from-json | to-json  It is also possible to use from-json to construct float64 values before the float64 builtin is actually implemented.
I'm new to elvish and have some concerns. Correct me if I'm wrong.
My options for 1. support using big.Int/big.Float and for 2. not for now
Convert between types
I prefer implicit convert numbers between different representation, (i.e. float64, int64 in golang, and big.Int, big.Float for large numbers), just like python. We could automatically choose appropriate types for result types.
And convert from/to string should be explicitly.
Could a function claims it only accept number like object?
@clouds56 Thanks for your comment. Indeed, the topics you have touched upon are very interesting:
After some more thoughts, I've come up with some design changes and clarifications.
A: Builtin functions that previously output numbers as strings will be outputting typed numbers.
The reason for this change is that, when we restrict ourselves to arithmetic functions, the original design makes much sense, as the user can very conviniently switch between the two output modes by deciding what types the arguments are.
However, there are functions that do not take number arguments, but output numbers. Notably,
I think that it is worthwhile to re-orientate a bit and treat typed numbers slightly more seriously. Previously my idea was that "typed numbers are only necessary when dealing with serialization formats, and you can forget about it if you are not dealing with them"; but now it seems simpler to embrace typed numbers, but still support the use of plain strings as numbers as a convinience.
What does not change though, is that all the arithmetic functions will continue to accept string arguments. You will never have to write
With this change, however, it is important that typed numbers interoperates well with strings. Hence points B and C:
B: Typed numbers only have the clumsy-looking syntax in its representation, not stringification.
Like Python and some other languages, Elvish values can be converted to a string in 2 ways: representation (resembling Python
C: Typed numbers can be concatenated with strings, in which case they stringify implicitly.
To whomever comes around here with an older (v0.12 as f.ex. in Debian buster) elvish version: one of the problems mentioned in the OP, namely piping JSON number values:
... actually is resolved and works correctly in v0.13 (as in Debian bullseye):
Similarily piping a