Posts Tagged ‘Erlang’

Binary comprehensions in Erlang

September 19, 2014

In set theory there is a convenient notation for defining new sets, called set comprehension. For example when we have a set A we can define a collection of singleton sets with elements from the set  A as \{ \{x\}:x\in A\}. Sometimes vertical bar is used instead of the colon, and in Isabelle/ZF a single dot is used (something like \{ \{x\}. x\in A\} parses successfully in Isabelle/ZF). In some programming languages a similar notation is used for lists. For example in Python one can write

[ [x] for x in [1,2,3] ]

to get a list of singleton lists and in Haskell

[ [x] | x <- [1,2,3] ]

gives the same.

Erlang also has a syntax for list comprehension, very similar to Haskell’s:

[ [X] || X <- [1,2,3] ]

The part X <- [1,2,3] above is called the generator expression.

Erlang has also something unique (as far as I know): binary comprehensions. This is a concept similar to the list comprehensions, but the dummy variable bound by the notation (x in the examples above) can range over binaries rather than lists. I found this very convenient when I was implementing Erlang interface to the  KDB+ IPC protocol.

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