Plain English names:

  • Generator
  • FP version of a generic "while" loop
    a function, `f`,
      that uses the next `b` value to generate
        either the case that ends the while loop, `Nothing`
        or the case that continues the while loop, `Just`
          which wraps a `Tuple` so that it can return
            the first or next value, `a`, that gets "put into" the `t` container
            the next `b` value that is then used by `f`
              to run the next iteration in the loop
    the first `b` value
return a container/collection, `t`, that stores all the `a` values
  that were generated by the `f` function,
    which may "contain" 0 or many `a` values.

It enables:

  • a way to generate a List of Intss where each Int in the List is one greater than the previous Int
  • a way to run the same Effect/Aff computation multiple times until a given condition is true


Code Definition

Don't look at its docs until after looking at the visual overview in the next section: Unfoldable

-- We'll ignore the `Unfoldable1` superclass for now..
class Unfoldable1 t <= Unfoldable t where
  unfoldr :: forall a b. (b -> Maybe (Tuple a b)) -> b -> t a

Visual Overview



We'll implement an instance for List a.

List's Instance

data List a = Nil | Cons a

instance Unfoldable List where
  unfoldr :: forall a b. (b -> Maybe (Tuple a b)) -> b -> List a
  unfoldr f initialB = case f initialB of
    Nothing -> Nil
    Just (Tuple a nextB) -> Cons a (unfoldr f nextB)



Derived Functions

Overview of Possible Functions for f

The only part of unfoldr f initialB we can hard-code in a derived function is the f function. There are three different functions we could use for f:

-- We'll use this type alias in the next couple of sections
type UnfoldrFunction a b = b -> Maybe Tuple a b

-- case 1
alwaysReturnJust :: forall a b. a -> b -> UnfoldrFunction a b
alwaysReturnJust a b = \initialB -> Just (Tuple a b)

-- case 2
alwaysReturnNothing :: forall a b. UnfoldrFunction a b
alwaysReturnNothing _ = Nothing

-- case 3
itDepends :: forall a b. UnfoldrFunction a b
itDepends = -- possibilities are shown later
Case NameDerived Function NameResult
case 1!!! 😱😱😱 !!!Runtime Error: Infinite loop!
case 2noneProduces an empty t
case 3replicate, replicateA, and fromMaybesee below overviews of each function

Case 1 functions always produce a runtime error due to creating an infinite loop. They will appear in two ways:

-- obvious because Just is always returned
example1 = unfoldr (const Just (Tuple 0 0)) 0

-- Not as obvious in situations where
-- there are a lot of possible conditions
example2 =
  unfoldr f 0
  f nextB
    | nextB < 0  = Just (Tuple 1 2)
    | nextB > 0  = Just (Tuple 2 -4)
    | nextB == 0 = Just (Tuple 8 4)
    | otherwise  = Nothing
      -- ^ this case never occurs

Case 3 Functions

Using a countdown or countup function to do something n-many times

countUp :: forall a. Int -> UnfoldrFunction a Int
countUp limit = \nextInt ->
  if nextInt >= limit then Nothing
  else Just (Tuple aValue (nextInt + 1))

countDown :: forall a. UnfoldrFunction a Int
countDown = \nextInt ->
  if nextInt <= 0 then Nothing
  else Just (Tuple aValue (nextInt - 1))

These kinds of functions are used in the following derived functions:

  • replicate - Add the same a value to a t container x number of times.
  • replicateA - Run the same applicative-based computation x number of times and store their results in the t container.

Converting a Maybe into another type that has an Unfoldable instance