Purely functional lisp featuring: default currying, left-associative s-expression, lazy evaluation, static type system, and statically determined multimethods.
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.



Dec 2012 Minori Yamashita ympbyc@gmail.com

;;./Carrot.scm examples/srfi-1.nadeko

(-> (Y (^ f (cons 1 (cons 1 (zipWith f + (cdr f))))))
 -> (take 8)
 -> reverse
 <- (foldl (comp (comp ++ (++ " : ")) num->str) ""))

Check out Carrot 2 (also WIP) too



To run the VM at the bleeding edge

./Carrot.scm examples/srfi-1.scm

The language

This section specifies the language Carrot. Carrot is a powerful functional programming language designed to be extremely simple and portable.


Characters in a line after semicolon are treated as comments

code 0 comments

;this is a comment
"this is not a comment" ;this is a comment

Primitive values (Expression)

Primitive values are values that evaluates to itself. They include numbers, characters, strings, symbols and so on. Implementations must provide at least the following primitives:

  • Strings
  • Numbers
  • Symbols

code 1 examples of primitive values

"abcd"    ;string
1         ;number
'foo      ;symbol

Identifiers (Expression)

Identifiers are symbols that are or to be bound to another value. They are used to name functions, and as parameters of functions. An identifier is consist of one or more non-whitespace charactors. Some combinations are reserved as they are syntactic forms.

code 2 examples of identifiers


Implementations SHOULD allow every character that is not used for literals to be used to construct identifiers.

Lambda expressions (Expression)

Lambda expressions create closures. Closures are objects that when applied to a value return another value. They are basically, functions carrying its own environment with it.

Lambda expressions have the syntactic form (^ identifier ... expression) Where identifier ... is replaced with an arbitrary number of identifiers, and expression is replaced with an actual expression. identifier is a parameter that gets bound to a value(actualy a thunk as we see later) when the closure is applied to arguments.

code 3 lambda expressions

(^ x (* x x)) ;;A

(^ a b c (* a (+ b c))) ;;B

The expression A, when applied, computes the squared value of a given number. The expression B, when applied, performs a simple arithmetic operations on three numbers. Note that the expression B is semantically the same as the following expression.

code 4 explicit currying

(^ a (^ b (^ c (* a (+ b c))))) ;;C

In fact, Carrot interprets the code B as C. We will discuss the significance of it later.

Definition (Statement)

The expression (= (name type ...) [identifier ...] expression) or (=u (name type ...) [identifier ...] expression) Binds the expression to the name. If one or more parameters( identifier ... ) are given, they can be used in the expression to refer to the values the function is applied to. =u directs the compiler not to type-check the function body.

Multiple functions can share a name. In which case their types must differ.

code 5 defining a map function

(= (map (List a) (Fn a b) (List b))
  xs f
  (nil? xs nil
        (cons (f (car xs))
              (map (cdr xs) f))))

Implementations SHOULD implement tail call otimization.

Application (Expression)

Functions(closures) can be applied to arguments. The application begins with an open paren, then the function, followed by a sequence of arguments, and ends with an corresponding close paren.

code 6 applying map function to a list

(map listX functionX) ;;A

(map (take integers 5) (+ 2)) ;;B

In the expression A, the map function defined in code 5 is applied to two arguments; listX and functionX assuming they are defined elsewhere. This fills the parameter slots of the map function meaning that listX gets bound to xs and functionX gets bound to f. The expression inside map is then evaluated using both listX and functionX. Eventually the evaluation completes; producing a value(in this case a new list).

  • Carrot uses call-by-need evaluation strategy (although the implementation is incomplete).
  • Every function is curried.

Implementations SHOLD implement "call-by-need" instead of "call-by-name".

Type System

Carrot's type system is aimed to check if the programme's intention was consistent throughout the program. The type system is unique and somewhat criptic at first sight:

How to Type Expressions

The syntactic form = gives types to identifiers.

;; typing primitive values
(= (name String) "Rikka")

;; typing composit values
(= (names (List String)) (cons "Rikka" (cons "Kozue" (cons "Kamome" nil))))

;; typing functions
(= (second (List a) a)               ;; (<name> <argument-type>... <return-type>)
   xs                                ;; parameter...
   (car (cdr xs)))                   ;; expression

Twisted Algebraic Data Type

Carrot has no data structures except for closures, yet the type system is rich enough to express something like algebraic data types. No syntax has to be introduced.

;; Lists
(=u (cons a (List a) (List a))
    x xs f (f x xs))
(=u (nil (List a)) 'nil)
(=  (car (List a) a)
    xs (xs true))
(=  (cdr (List a) (List a))
    xs (xs false))

Things Start to Get Odd

Carrot's runtime values are completely untyped (not even dynamicaly typed). As a consequence, Carrot's types are completely independent from its underlying implementation.

;;invisible container

(=u (box a (Box a))
    x x)                              ;; a boxed value's internal representation is the value itself
(=u (takeout (Box a) a)
    x x)                              ;; just return what gets passed in

(box 7)                              ;;=> 7
(takeout 7)                          ;;=> TYPE ERROR!
(takeout (box 7))                    ;;=> 7

Statically-Resolved MultiMethods

Carrot supports multimethods. Because Carrot's runtime values are untyped, methods have to be selected at compile-time.

(=u (dog Dog) :dog)
(=u (cat Cat) :cat)

(= (talk Dog String) _ "bow-wow")
(= (talk Cat String) _ "meoooow")

(talk cat)

Current implementation can't dispatch on generic types like (List a).

S-expression without paren hell

Carrot's default currying policy togather with lazyness gave us an unexpected gift -- Reduced use of parentheses.

Because the arguments are delayed automaticaly, we can implement booleans as functions.

(= (true Bool)  t e t)
(= (false Bool) t e e)

(if (eq? a b) "equal" "not equal")

(=? a b "equal" "not equal")

Pipeline operator in F#, and Synthread in Clojure are useful tool to avoid nesting of function calls. In Carrot, -> can be used to compose functions left to right so it reads similarly to the synthread. -> is just a (Fn b c) -> (Fn a b) -> c function.

(-> 1
 -> (+ 2)
 -> (* 3)
 -> num->str
 <- (flip ++ " = nine"))

;;equivalent to
(print 0 (++ (num->str (* (+ 1 2) 3)) " = nine"))

(-> nil
 -> (acons :name "立華")
 -> (acons :favorite "ツナ")
 -> (acons :job "ネットワークエンジニア")
 <- (^ rikka (+++ (pull (assq :job      rikka))
                  (pull (assq :name     rikka))
                  (pull (assq :favorite rikka)))))


I/O in lazy languages are hard because the order of evaluation is not lexical, and if the return value of an I/O operation does not affect the overall result, the operation itself gets ommited. To go around this problem, Haskell uses what's called an IO Monad. IO Monad is a way to construct a computation, and sideeffects don't happen while the program is being evaluated. Carrot takes a saner approach than that. It uses what we call a timed-io. Every sideeffectful function F takes an additional argument time X, and F that usually return () instead return a time Y. By giving Y to another sideeffectful function G, a clear relation between F and G gets formed so Carrot can figure out the evaluation order. Every sideeffectful function may cache its results based on the time so it works fine even with call-by-name strategy.

(-> (print 0 "Hi! What's your name?")
 -> read
 -> (^ name  (print 1 (+++ "Nice to meet you, " name ". What do you like?")))
 -> read
 id (^ thing (print 2 (++ thing "? I like that, too!"))))


There is no macro mechanism built in to Carrot at this stage partly because there's no need for it.

Influenced by

Carrot is influenced by the following languages

  • Haskell - for lazyness and currying
  • Scheme - for syntax and actors
  • Io - for simplicity
  • Smalltalk-72 - for messaging notation
  • Clojure





Statically-selected multimethod


Integrated a type system.


Krivine VM is replaced by S Machine described in http://www.cs.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/techreports/TRNNN.cgi?trnum=TR581


A huge change in syntax.

  • (:= (fname param ...) expr) is replaced by (= fname param ... expr)
  • (:= (name) const) is replaced by (= name const)
  • (-> (param ...) expr) is replaced by (^ param ... expr)
  • = for equality check is replaced by =?

All the examples and tests are up to date with this change.