[m-dev.] syntax proposals

Ralph Becket rafe at cs.mu.OZ.AU
Wed Nov 7 10:51:33 AEDT 2001

Fergus Henderson, Wednesday,  7 November 2001:
> On 06-Nov-2001, Peter Schachte <schachte at cs.mu.OZ.AU> wrote:
> > 
> > Will the precedence of 'func' allow this without parentheses?
> No, good point, the `func' declaration would need to be parenthesized.

Which is unfortunate.

One thing that I find aesthetically distressing is that we currently
have different syntax for declarations at the top-level and for nested
declarations such as with typeclass and instances.

This stems from using lists to group nested declarations and
definitions.  Can we introduce a different kind of `list' for this
purpose which perserves the top-level syntax.  That is, rather than

	:- typeclass c(T) where [
		func f(T) = int,
		pred p(T),
		mode p(in) is semidet,

we would say

	:- typeclass c(T) where [|
		:- func f(T) = int.
		:- pred p(T).
		:- mode p(in) is semidet.

where [| and |] group a set of declarations written in the standard
top-level syntax.

> > In any case, the precedence of :- certainly won't.
> The proposal was that `:-' wouldn't be required in nested declarations,
> to be consistent with typeclass declarations.
> Personally I favour dropping the requirement for `:-' in top-level
> declarations too, although this proposal didn't get much support last
> time I raised it.

I think I'd vote in favour of that change.

> > The idea of nested
> > functions/predicates is fine, but this syntax doesn't seem quite right.
> > Also, I think definitions should be nested within a *predicate or function*,
> > not a single *clause*, because it's not unlikely multiple clauses for the
> > function or predicate will want to refer to the nested definition, and it
> > would be a shame to be forced to use an explicit disjunction just so you
> > could use this nested defintion syntax.
> Well, it seems to work OK in Haskell, even though Haskell has the same
> limitation (nested definitions are only visible within a clause, not
> the whole function).

We could extend the above notation to cover this case if we wanted,
for example

	f([]) = base.
	f([X | Xs]) = g(X, f(Xs)).
	...definition of local func g...

- Ralph
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