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* [Caml-list] Restrict type to specific chars
@ 2020-06-30 16:25 Sam Kuper
  2020-06-30 17:33 ` Yawar Amin
  2020-06-30 18:07 ` Jesse Haber-Kucharsky
  0 siblings, 2 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Sam Kuper @ 2020-06-30 16:25 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: ML caml-list (ocaml discuss)

Dear list,

Forgive me for asking a very basic question, but I have not so far been
able to find an answer in any of the OCaml books to which I have access,
nor in the OCaml documentation or mailing list archive.

How does one define a type whose values are restricted to one of some
specified chars?

E.g. suppose I want to define a type `ab` whose values can only be
either 'a' or 'b'.  I imagine that should work something like this:

    # type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b' ;;
    type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b'

and thereby give the following functionality:

    # Ab 'a';;
    - : ab = Ab 'a'
    # Ab 'b';;
    - : ab = Ab 'b'
    # Ab 'c';;
    Error: <some error>

The definition above is essentially pseudo-code to illustrate what I
would like to achieve with real, valid OCaml code.  (If I knew how to
write valid OCaml to achieve this, then I would not be posting this
question on the mailing list.)

Here are several of my failed attempts at writing OCaml code for what I
want to achieve:

    # type ab = 'a' | 'b';;
    Error: Syntax error

    # type ab = char 'a' | char 'b';;
    Error: Syntax error

    # type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b';;
    Error: Syntax error

    # type 'a ab = 'a constraint 'a = 'a' | 'b';;
    Error: Syntax error

    # type 'a ab = 'a constraint 'a = 'a' | 'a = 'b';;
    Error: Syntax error

How can I actually achieve it?

Thank you in advance,

Sam

-- 
A: When it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: When is top-posting a bad thing?

()  ASCII ribbon campaign. Please avoid HTML emails & proprietary
/\  file formats. (Why? See e.g. https://v.gd/jrmGbS ). Thank you.

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 4+ messages in thread

* Re: [Caml-list] Restrict type to specific chars
  2020-06-30 16:25 [Caml-list] Restrict type to specific chars Sam Kuper
@ 2020-06-30 17:33 ` Yawar Amin
  2020-06-30 17:54   ` Yotam Barnoy
  2020-06-30 18:07 ` Jesse Haber-Kucharsky
  1 sibling, 1 reply; 4+ messages in thread
From: Yawar Amin @ 2020-06-30 17:33 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Sam Kuper, ML caml-list (ocaml discuss)


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Hi Sam,

You can't do exactly that, because OCaml values like chars don't exist at
the type level. So you can't say e.g.

    let a : 'a' = a

...or other similar things where values would be types.

What you would usually do is make an abstract (or private) type that allows
constructing only valid values. E.g.,

    module Ab : sig
      type t = private char
      val make : char -> t option
    end = struct
      type t = char
      let make char = match char with 'a' | 'b' -> Some char | _ -> None
    end

This allows constructing only values containing 'a' or 'b', with the
guarantee provided by the module's implementation. So if you call `Ab.make
some_char`, you'll get back an `Ab.t option`, but if it's `Some`, then you
have a guarantee that it contains 'a' or 'b'.

You can convert the `Ab.t` value to a `char` using `(value :> char)`
(basically, upcasting).

Regards,

Yawar

On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 12:26 PM Sam Kuper <sampablokuper@posteo.net> wrote:

> Dear list,
>
> Forgive me for asking a very basic question, but I have not so far been
> able to find an answer in any of the OCaml books to which I have access,
> nor in the OCaml documentation or mailing list archive.
>
> How does one define a type whose values are restricted to one of some
> specified chars?
>
> E.g. suppose I want to define a type `ab` whose values can only be
> either 'a' or 'b'.  I imagine that should work something like this:
>
>     # type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b' ;;
>     type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b'
>
> and thereby give the following functionality:
>
>     # Ab 'a';;
>     - : ab = Ab 'a'
>     # Ab 'b';;
>     - : ab = Ab 'b'
>     # Ab 'c';;
>     Error: <some error>
>
> The definition above is essentially pseudo-code to illustrate what I
> would like to achieve with real, valid OCaml code.  (If I knew how to
> write valid OCaml to achieve this, then I would not be posting this
> question on the mailing list.)
>
> Here are several of my failed attempts at writing OCaml code for what I
> want to achieve:
>
>     # type ab = 'a' | 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
>     # type ab = char 'a' | char 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
>     # type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
>     # type 'a ab = 'a constraint 'a = 'a' | 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
>     # type 'a ab = 'a constraint 'a = 'a' | 'a = 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
> How can I actually achieve it?
>
> Thank you in advance,
>
> Sam
>
> --
> A: When it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
> Q: When is top-posting a bad thing?
>
> ()  ASCII ribbon campaign. Please avoid HTML emails & proprietary
> /\  file formats. (Why? See e.g. https://v.gd/jrmGbS ). Thank you.
>

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^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 4+ messages in thread

* Re: [Caml-list] Restrict type to specific chars
  2020-06-30 17:33 ` Yawar Amin
@ 2020-06-30 17:54   ` Yotam Barnoy
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Yotam Barnoy @ 2020-06-30 17:54 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Yawar Amin; +Cc: Sam Kuper, ML caml-list (ocaml discuss)

A simpler option is to just encode chars as variants:

type t = A | B | C

and then have conversion functions

let t_of_char = function
  | 'a' -> A
  | 'b' -> B
  | 'c' -> C
  | _ -> invalid_arg "Unsupported char"

let char_of_t = function
 | A -> 'a'
 | B -> 'b'
 | C -> 'c'

On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 1:34 PM Yawar Amin <yawar.amin@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi Sam,
>
> You can't do exactly that, because OCaml values like chars don't exist at the type level. So you can't say e.g.
>
>     let a : 'a' = a
>
> ...or other similar things where values would be types.
>
> What you would usually do is make an abstract (or private) type that allows constructing only valid values. E.g.,
>
>     module Ab : sig
>       type t = private char
>       val make : char -> t option
>     end = struct
>       type t = char
>       let make char = match char with 'a' | 'b' -> Some char | _ -> None
>     end
>
> This allows constructing only values containing 'a' or 'b', with the guarantee provided by the module's implementation. So if you call `Ab.make some_char`, you'll get back an `Ab.t option`, but if it's `Some`, then you have a guarantee that it contains 'a' or 'b'.
>
> You can convert the `Ab.t` value to a `char` using `(value :> char)` (basically, upcasting).
>
> Regards,
>
> Yawar
>
> On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 12:26 PM Sam Kuper <sampablokuper@posteo.net> wrote:
>>
>> Dear list,
>>
>> Forgive me for asking a very basic question, but I have not so far been
>> able to find an answer in any of the OCaml books to which I have access,
>> nor in the OCaml documentation or mailing list archive.
>>
>> How does one define a type whose values are restricted to one of some
>> specified chars?
>>
>> E.g. suppose I want to define a type `ab` whose values can only be
>> either 'a' or 'b'.  I imagine that should work something like this:
>>
>>     # type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b' ;;
>>     type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b'
>>
>> and thereby give the following functionality:
>>
>>     # Ab 'a';;
>>     - : ab = Ab 'a'
>>     # Ab 'b';;
>>     - : ab = Ab 'b'
>>     # Ab 'c';;
>>     Error: <some error>
>>
>> The definition above is essentially pseudo-code to illustrate what I
>> would like to achieve with real, valid OCaml code.  (If I knew how to
>> write valid OCaml to achieve this, then I would not be posting this
>> question on the mailing list.)
>>
>> Here are several of my failed attempts at writing OCaml code for what I
>> want to achieve:
>>
>>     # type ab = 'a' | 'b';;
>>     Error: Syntax error
>>
>>     # type ab = char 'a' | char 'b';;
>>     Error: Syntax error
>>
>>     # type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b';;
>>     Error: Syntax error
>>
>>     # type 'a ab = 'a constraint 'a = 'a' | 'b';;
>>     Error: Syntax error
>>
>>     # type 'a ab = 'a constraint 'a = 'a' | 'a = 'b';;
>>     Error: Syntax error
>>
>> How can I actually achieve it?
>>
>> Thank you in advance,
>>
>> Sam
>>
>> --
>> A: When it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
>> Q: When is top-posting a bad thing?
>>
>> ()  ASCII ribbon campaign. Please avoid HTML emails & proprietary
>> /\  file formats. (Why? See e.g. https://v.gd/jrmGbS ). Thank you.

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 4+ messages in thread

* Re: [Caml-list] Restrict type to specific chars
  2020-06-30 16:25 [Caml-list] Restrict type to specific chars Sam Kuper
  2020-06-30 17:33 ` Yawar Amin
@ 2020-06-30 18:07 ` Jesse Haber-Kucharsky
  1 sibling, 0 replies; 4+ messages in thread
From: Jesse Haber-Kucharsky @ 2020-06-30 18:07 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Sam Kuper, ML caml-list (ocaml discuss)


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On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 12:26 PM Sam Kuper <sampablokuper@posteo.net> wrote:

> Dear list,
>
> Forgive me for asking a very basic question, but I have not so far been
> able to find an answer in any of the OCaml books to which I have access,
> nor in the OCaml documentation or mailing list archive.
>
> How does one define a type whose values are restricted to one of some
> specified chars?
>
> E.g. suppose I want to define a type `ab` whose values can only be
> either 'a' or 'b'.  I imagine that should work something like this:
>
>     # type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b' ;;
>     type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b'
>
> and thereby give the following functionality:
>
>     # Ab 'a';;
>     - : ab = Ab 'a'
>     # Ab 'b';;
>     - : ab = Ab 'b'
>     # Ab 'c';;
>     Error: <some error>
>
> The definition above is essentially pseudo-code to illustrate what I
> would like to achieve with real, valid OCaml code.  (If I knew how to
> write valid OCaml to achieve this, then I would not be posting this
> question on the mailing list.)
>
> Here are several of my failed attempts at writing OCaml code for what I
> want to achieve:
>
>     # type ab = 'a' | 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
>     # type ab = char 'a' | char 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
>     # type ab = Ab of char 'a' | Ab of char 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
>     # type 'a ab = 'a constraint 'a = 'a' | 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
>     # type 'a ab = 'a constraint 'a = 'a' | 'a = 'b';;
>     Error: Syntax error
>
> How can I actually achieve it?
>
> Thank you in advance,
>
> Sam
>
> --
> A: When it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
> Q: When is top-posting a bad thing?
>
> ()  ASCII ribbon campaign. Please avoid HTML emails & proprietary
> /\  file formats. (Why? See e.g. https://v.gd/jrmGbS ). Thank you.
>

Hi Sam.

As a small variation of Yawar's excellent reply, consider the following
(the file is named `sam.ml`):

    module AB : sig
      type t = private char

      val a : t
      val b : t
      val char : t -> char
    end = struct
      type t = char

      let a = 'a'
      let b = 'b'
      let char t = t
    end

    let () =
      let x = AB.a in
      let y = AB.b in
      assert (AB.char x = 'a') ;
      assert (AB.char y = 'b')

I like this approach because it statically guarantees that a value of
`Ab.t` is always either 'a' or 'b', and attempting to do otherwise results
in a compilation error.

Best,
--
Jesse

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^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 4+ messages in thread

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-- links below jump to the message on this page --
2020-06-30 16:25 [Caml-list] Restrict type to specific chars Sam Kuper
2020-06-30 17:33 ` Yawar Amin
2020-06-30 17:54   ` Yotam Barnoy
2020-06-30 18:07 ` Jesse Haber-Kucharsky

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