These are lecture notes from my Computer Science course. For learning about functional programming, in particular Haskell, I recommend Programming in Haskell.


  1. Locality of names
  2. Generalisation as a programming tactic, and generalisation in Haskell.

Local Definitions

Haskell can support local definitions. I used this in the practical. It takes the form:

local equations

You can also use let, not sure what the difference is. Something about let being expression level?

I used this to add an accumulator function to a function by having a function/2 and function'/3 where the added parameter is the accumulator. For example (taken from my week3.hs practical answers):

positions :: Eq a => [a] -> a -> [Int]
-- I think there's a neater way of doing this
positions [] _ = []
positions x y = positions' x y 1
  positions' [] _ _ = []
  positions' (x:xs) y n | x == y = n : positions' xs y (n+1)
  positions' (x:xs) y n = positions' xs y (n+1)

Here’s an example we did in the lecture:

diff [] ys = []
diff (x:xs) ys = if xful ys then d else x : d
  d = diff xs ys
  xful [] = False
  xful (y:ys) = if x == y then True else xful ys

I’ve made a mistake in my positions code; the variables don’t need to be passed on. So it could instead read:

positions :: Eq a => [a] -> a -> [Int]
positions [] _ = []
positions x y = positions' x 1
  positions' [] _ = []
  positions' (x:xs) n | x == y = n : positions' xs (n+1)
  positions' (x:xs) n = positions' xs (n+1)


Nothing ground breaking here. Generalise where possible as you can then reuse code. Also allows you to potentially do more clever things. Gave the example of producing a Fibonacci sequence purely based off how it works mathematically, which is a very poor performing way of doing it. Making a ‘generic sequence’ function allows you to have auxiliary arguments and so on (more flexibility).

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