Erlang-inspired modules with pattern matching
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README.md

Noaidi

This is a proof-of-concept gem for creating focused modules with pattern matching support. At its root it was inspired by how Erlang does it, but later was refined using concepts from Elixir language.

Noaidi is a Saami name for a shaman. According to Wikipedia:

A noaidi was a mediator between the human world and saivo, the underworld, for the least of community problems.

So, this Noaidi is a mediator between the functional world and Ruby world (which of those is saivo, I leave it to you).

There are some blog posts about it:

Usage

A basic unit of this library is a module. Module should define some functions (called funs) and be responsible for some part of the domain. A classic example is a naive recursive Fibonacci implementation. Here's how it looks with Noaidi:

require 'noaidi'

naive = Noaidi.module do
  fun :fib, [0] { 0 }
  fun :fib, [1] { 1 }
  fun :fib, [Integer] do |n|
    fib(n - 1) + fib(n - 2)
  end
end

puts naive.fib(5)
puts naive.fib(15)

As you see, the core concept is a fun. You create is using DSL inside a block passed to Noaidi.module. First parameter is a fun name, second is array of arguments pattern. It is followed by a block. Of course, you can reference funs from the same module in other funs. If you call for example fib(1), the first fun where arguments pattern matches the actual arguments is called (and in this case will return 1).

Pattern matching

You can leverage pattern matching in Noaidi with some choices. That basic match will use === operator (like case). This way, except for exact values, you can match on:

  • Classes – to indicate that the argument has to be an instance of this class or its subclass
  • Values – so that the argument has to be exactly the same
  • Ranges – to have the argument included in the boundaries of a range

There are also some special patterns, that are handled differently:

Hashes: You can pass { status: :ok } as a pattern and it will match all hashes that include value :ok under :status key. It does not matter what the rest of the keys are. As a values you can also use other pattern, i.e. { response: 500..599, headers: { language: 'fi' } } will match all hashes with response between 500 and 599 and also having a :headers key, containing a hash having 'fi' under :language key.

Lambdas provide basic guard possibilities. If the lambda evaluates to true, it is a match. For example:

Stat = Noaidi.module do
  # Assuming array is already sorted

  fun :median, [->(array) { array.is_a?(Array) && array.length.even? }] do
    half = array.length/2
    (array[half] + array[half - 1]) / 2.0
  end

  fun :median, [Array] { array[array.length/2] }
end

You can use any keyword if you don't want to specify constraint on the argument:

fun :whatever, [any, Integer] { |a, i| a.to_s * i }

Argument relevance

Noaidi.match open_file(path) do |m|
  m.(:ok, File)         {|file| process_file(file) },
  m.(:error, Exception) {|ex| handle_file_opening_exception(path, ex) }
end

If you look at the example above, you'll notice that even though the pattern consists of two elements, only one is passed to execution block. This is because of relevance checker. If you match against :ok, File you will always have :ok as the first argument, and therefore there's no point in passing it to the block.

The rule here is that if you match by value (usually symbols, strings, numbers), the pattern is irrelevant. In every other case, it is relevant and passed to the block.

Immutability

It's not easy to enforce immutability in language like Ruby and I won't try too hard to do it. However, funs are frozen, which means that you can change it after it has been moduled. It also means that you can't use instance variables in funs (that's intentional, as using them could possibly yield unexpected results). Of course, I bet there are some trick with which you can overcome this, but having to use them should discourage you enough.

Default arguments

Default arguments for funs are not supported and won't be supported. This is by design. If you want to have default arguments, use constructs known in other languages, i.e.

fun :mult, [Integer, Integer] {|x,y| x*y }
fun :mult, [Integer] {|x| mult(x, 1) }

Using pattern matching outside modules

Sometimes you don want to write a module to use pattern matching. In those cases, use Noaidi.match.

Noaidi.match save_post(@post) do |m|
    m.(:ok, Post) {|post| redirect_to post, notice: 'Post successfully created' },
    m.(:invalid, any) {|_validation_errors| render :new },
    m.(:error, StandardError) {|error| render :error_500, error: error }
end

If you care for performance, treat this pattern matching as RegEx, where initialization is a most expensive part. With that in mind, you can "compile" the match beforehand and only call subsequent values on compiled version. Use Noaidi.compile_match just like with an example above. The returned value will be a compiled matcher.

matcher = Noaidi.compile_match do |m|
  ...
end

matcher.(value)

The benchmark comparing those two approaches on my laptop gives following results:

Rehearsal ----------------------------------------------------------------
100000 times without compile   1.190000   0.000000   1.190000 (  1.191833)
100000 times with compile      0.380000   0.000000   0.380000 (  0.388147)
------------------------------------------------------- total: 1.570000sec

                                   user     system      total        real
100000 times without compile   1.190000   0.000000   1.190000 (  1.184098)
100000 times with compile      0.390000   0.000000   0.390000 (  0.386056)

Roadmap

Things I want to implement in the future:

  • Private funs in module
  • _ operator that matches argument as irrelevant and does not pass it to execution block

Testing

Run rake spec.

Contributing

Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at https://github.com/katafrakt/noaidi.

License

The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.