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Lenses for Arrows describes how the Lens datatype from Control.Lens can be generalise to support arrows.

View lensesForArrows.lhs
{-# LANGUAGE Rank2Types #-}
import Prelude hiding (id)
import Data.Functor.Constant (Constant(Constant), getConstant)
import Control.Arrow (Arrow, arr, first, Kleisli(Kleisli), runKleisli, (&&&))
import Control.Category ((<<<))
import Control.Lens (sequenceAOf)
import qualified Control.Lens as L
import qualified Control.Lens.Internal.Setter as LS
import Data.Profunctor (Profunctor, rmap)
import System.Random (randomIO)
  • Lenses that work with Arrows

Tom Ellis 2013-10-07

-- Abstract

I introduce a very simple extension to the Lens datatype from Control.Lens that allows it to work with Arrows.

Edit: Edward Kmett has demonstrated that this post is redundant. See

-- Introduction

The van Laarhoven lens story starts with the following definition of Lens:

type Lens s t a b = GeneralLens (->) s t a b

which I have given in terms of a later generalisation noted by the authors of Control.Lens:

type GeneralLens p s t a b = forall f. Functor f
                             => p a (f b) -> p s (f t)

We can define a function that modifies the contents of a lens:

overFunction :: Lens s t a b -> (a -> b) -> (s -> t)
overFunction l = fmap LS.runMutator . l . fmap LS.Mutator

In other words, this allows us to lift a function using a lens. (We also have the usual method of viewing the target of the lens:)

viewFunction :: Lens s t a b -> s -> a
viewFunction l = getConstant . l Constant

However, it does not seem possible to lift a general arrow. That is, I do not think it is possible to define a function

overArrow :: Arrow arr => Lens s t a b -> arr a b -> arr s t

that lifts an arrow using a lens. The Lens datatype seems not powerful enough to support that operation. In this post I will demonstrate a minor adaptation of van Laarhoven lenses that allows this in a satisfying way. I called this adaptation the ArrLens. ArrLens is a very general concept, and I have not been able to think of any Lens that cannot be extended to an ArrLens. I propose that ArrLens is supported by Control.Lens since it adds a lot of functionality for little cost.

It seems rather odd that lenses do not already support this functionality. After all, it is part of the folklore of lenses that they describe an isomorphism between some type s and (a, z) where a is the target of the lens and z some anonymous type. If the lens really gave us this isomorphism we could use first f from Control.Arrow to lift an arrow of type arr a b using the lens.

Still, it seems that the usual van Laarhoven lens does not support this operation. (I would be very interested to hear differently as it would make this post redundant!)

-- Motivation

Arrows live in a somewhat marginal corner of the Haskell ecosystem and don't get as much attention as other more popular abstractions. Still, they are a useful generalisation of functions, the Kleisli category of a monad forms an arrow, and every applicative gives rise to an arrow whose first type argument is disregarded.

I came across the need for ArrLens whilst developing a database DSL. I have already implemented some basic ArrLenses and used them straightforwardly as one would use the more familiar Lens.

-- ArrLens

I propose a minor adaptation to van Laarhoven lenses, the ArrLens:

type ArrLens s t a b = forall arr. Arrow arr
                       => GeneralLens arr s t a b

"arr s t a b" might sound like something a pirate does, but they are in fact type variables. An ArrLens can be used anywhere a Lens can, by specialising to arr = (->). With ArrLens we can lift any arrow

over  :: Arrow arr => ArrLens s t a b -> arr a b -> arr s t
over l f = arr LS.runMutator <<< l (arr LS.Mutator <<< f)

(Note that 'view' did not pose any difficulty anyway. We can already lift any pure function into an arrow.)

view :: Arrow arr => Lens s t a b -> arr s a
view = arr . viewFunction

I suspect that by parametricity we have a nice relationship between the general ArrLens and the ArrLens specialised to (->). I hypothesise the following properties, but I haven't proved them.

P1. arr (view l) = view l P2. arr (over l f) = over l (arr f)

If we define view in terms of viewFunction as above then P1 seems to follow immediately.

We can also define set (which sets the component of a lens) in the usual way. The concept of setting does not make sense for a general Arrow arr, only when arr = (->). Still, an ArrLens can be passed as the first argument and it will be specialised to (->).

set :: Lens s t a b -> b -> s -> t
set l x = overFunction l (const x)

It is possible to define an ArrLens for any product type, and only slighly more involved than defining a Lens. Here are some examples for 3-tuples. The key observation is they each make explicit use of an isomorphism with a pair. For clarity I'll write them without factoring out the obvious duplication. Note that they use lenses from Control.Arrow as part of their implementation!

_1 :: ArrLens (a, y, z) (b, y, z) a b
_1 f = arr (sequenceAOf L._1) <<< arr unwrap <<< first f <<< arr wrap
  where wrap (x, y, z) = (x, (y, z))
        unwrap (x, (y, z)) = (x, y, z)
_2 :: ArrLens (x, a, z) (x, b, z) a b
_2 f = arr (sequenceAOf L._2) <<< arr unwrap <<< first f <<< arr wrap
  where wrap (x, y, z) = (y, (x, z))
        unwrap (y, (x, z)) = (x, y, z)
_3 :: ArrLens (x, y, a) (x, y, b) a b
_3 f = arr (sequenceAOf L._3) <<< arr unwrap <<< first f <<< arr wrap
  where wrap (x, y, z) = (z, (x, y))
        unwrap (z, (x, y)) = (x, y, z)

-- Using ArrLens

For a demonstration, it is nice to use ArrLens on the Kleisli Arrow of the IO monad.

addRandom :: Kleisli IO Int String
addRandom = Kleisli $ \x -> do putStrLn "Running randomIO"
                               y <- randomIO :: IO Int
                               return (show x ++ " and then " ++ show y)
printK :: Show a => Kleisli IO a ()
printK = Kleisli print

The order of effects makes a difference!

randomThenShow :: Show a => Kleisli IO (Int, a, b) (String, b)
randomThenShow = (view _1 &&& view _3)
                 <<< over _2 printK
                 <<< over _1 addRandom
showThenRandom :: Show a => Kleisli IO (Int, a, b) (String, b)
showThenRandom = (view _1 &&& view _3)
                 <<< over _1 addRandom
                 <<< over _2 printK
runOnATuple :: Kleisli m (Int, Maybe String, Bool) b -> m b
runOnATuple = flip runKleisli (1, Just "peachy", True)
> runOnATuple randomThenShow
Running randomIO
Just "peachy"
("1 and then -2114250466",True)

> runOnATuple showThenRandom
Just "peachy"
Running randomIO
("1 and then 1578832953",True)

-- Laws for ArrLens

The laws required for Control.Lens[1] are

L1. You get back what you put in:

view l (set l b a) = b

L2. Putting back what you got doesn't change anything:

set l (view l a) a = a

L3. Setting twice is the same as setting once:

set l c (set l b a) = set l c a

Since set doesn't make sense for general arrows we have to express these in terms of over. Firstly we will state ArrLens laws 1 and 3. Law 2 will come later.

A1. view l <<< over l f = f <<< view l

A3. over l f <<< over l g = over l (f <<< g)

From these we can derive the original laws. Using A1 we derive L1.

view l (set l b a) = view l (over l (const b) a)
                   = (view l <<< over l (const b)) a
                   = (const b <<< view l) a
                   = b

Using A3 we derive L3.

set l c . set l b = over l (const c) <<< over l (const b)
                  = over l (const c <<< const b)
                  = over l (const c)
                  = set l c

It seems that the sensible-sounding law

A3b. over l id = id

is not actually needed here. Perhaps it follows from general considerations. As for deriving L2, the simplest translation I have found is A2

A2. over l (view l <<< arr (const a)) <<< arr (const a) = arr (const a)

Note that if hypotheses P1 and P2 are correct then this reduces to

arr (over l (view l <<< const a) <<< const a) = arr (const a)

which is equivalent to A2 specialised to arr = (->)

A2'. over l (view l <<< const a) <<< const a = const a

(The latter follows from the former by specialising to arr = (->). The former follows from the latter by applying arr to both sides.) In turn this is equivalent to

over l (const (view l a)) a = a

which is

A2''. set l (view l a) = a

We can still derive L2 from A2 without assuming P1 and P2. We obtain A2' immediately by specialising to arr = (->).

--- The origin of the ArrLens laws

Thinking about the product structure that the Arrow typeclass encodes makes it very clear what over and view represent in the context of Arrows, and why the laws A1 and A3 are justified. An ArrLens s t a b represents the structure of a type which is isomorphic to (a, z) for some z, and allows the a to vary to b if we pass the appropriate argument to over. (In the diagrams I abbreviate over l and view l to over and view.)

over f applies f to the a component and does nothing to the z component.

      over f
 +-+         +-+
 +-+         +-+
 +-+         +-+

view extracts the a component

 +-+         +-+
 |a|         |a|
 +-+--view-> +-+

The laws A1 and A2 arise naturally

      over f >>> view
 +-+         +-+         +-+
 |a|----f--->|b|         |b|
 +-+         +-+--view-> +-+
 +-+         +-+

       view >>> f
 +-+         +-+         +-+
 |a|         |a|----f--->|b|
 +-+--view-> +-+         +-+

     over f  >>> over g
 +-+         +-+         +-+
 +-+         +-+         +-+
 +-+         +-+         +-+

       over (f >>> g)
 +-+                     +-+
 |a|-------f >>> g ----->|c|
 +-+                     +-+
 +-+                     +-+

Law A2 is more difficult and I haven't found a particularly satisfying interpretation of it.

-- Proposal for Control.Lens

Many of the components of Control.Lens can be extended to ArrLens with no theoretical impediment. I do not know whether there would be a performance cost.

If we disregard performance issues then I would suggest that all Lens definitions in Control.Lens should be generalised to ArrLens as this would provide a strict increase in functionality. The Lens definitions in Control.Lens include makeLenses and the tuple accessors _1, _2, .... Further it seems that over can be generalized to take into account ArrLens.

overGeneral :: (Profunctor q, Profunctor p) =>
               L.Overloading p q LS.Mutator s t a b
               -> p a b -> q s t
overGeneral l f = LS.runMutator `rmap` l (LS.Mutator `rmap` f)

Hopefully, despite its name, this is not too much of a generalisation to work in practice. There are probably many other lens combinators that will extend to ArrLens with only a slight change to their implementation.

-- Further comments

The concept of van Laarhoven lens generalises very naturally to arrows as do the laws which govern the lenses, with the exception of L2 whose interpretation in terms of arrows is still rather unclear.

Note that ArrLenses are polymorphic in the arrow argument so we expect that viewing is always a pure operation. This property would also follow from hypothesis P1. Thus ArrLenses can only be used to view data "you have already got your hands on". Furthermore we hypothesise that over f performs only the effect of f, and only once. Thus an ArrLens itself never has effects.

-- Further questions

  • Can we replace A3 with its specialisation to (->)?
  • What is the significance of law A3b?
  • What is the nature of the difference between Lens and ArrLens?
  • Is it possible to write an ArrLens for every Lens?


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