# Haskell: Making Types¶

Note

These slides are also available in PDF format: 4:3 PDF, 16:9 PDF, 16:10 PDF.

## Learning Group Activity¶

Review the LGA with your group. Yadda yadda yadda.

## The data Keyword¶

In Haskell, using the data keyword lets us define our own types. For example, consider the Bool type, which could be defined as so:

data Bool = True | False


This reads, the data type Bool can be the value True or False.

## A Simple Data Type¶

Suppose we wanted to define a Point type which stores two Floats:

data Point = Point Float Float


That Point on the RHS of the = is the name of the constructor. This could be a different name than the type, but typically you will find it shares the same name.

To make a Point:

(Point 10.5 11.2)


## Why Not Just Tuples?¶

While it is true you could just use a (Float, Float) tuple to represent your points, consider the downsides:

• Type Safety: What about (Float, Float) tuples that don’t refer to points? Should these work in your methods made for points?
• Readability: Would another programmer reading your code understand that the 2-tuple referred to points? Maybe for points but harder for other types (what about a type Person that describes features of a person?)

## Another Example¶

data Shape = Circle Point Float | Rectangle Point Point


We can refer to our type in our functions by pattern matching:

area :: Shape -> Float
area (Circle _ r) = pi * r^2
area (Rectangle (Point x1 y1) (Point x2 y2)) = (x2 - x1) * (y2 - y1)


Activity

With your learning group, write a perimeter function. Then, extend the Shape data type to allow for a triangle (how you store this is up to you, right triangles are OK) and extend your perimeter function.

## Record Syntax¶

You could imagine writing functions to help you get the center or radius of a Circle:

center (Circle c _) = c
radius (Circle _ r) = r


Fortunately, you don’t have to do this. Haskell provides a Record Syntax that defines these functions for you, and makes your code a bit more readable:

data Circle = Circle { center :: Point, radius :: Float }


This also gives us access to a new constructor syntax:

Circle {center=(Point 1 1), radius=10}


## Type Parameters¶

Type parameters allow your type to take another data type. A simple example is the Maybe type builtin to Haskell:

data Maybe a = Nothing | Just a


How does this read? Maybe is either Nothing or the type specified by a.

As another example, suppose you wanted to define a 3D Vector data type that could work on any type:

data Vector a = Vector a a a


## Deriving Typeclasses¶

Suppose we want to be able to print our circles to the screen:

data Point = Point Float Float deriving (Show)

data Circle = Circle {
center :: Point,
radius :: Float
} deriving (Show)


Now…

GHCi> Circle (Point 1 1) 1
Circle (Point 1 1) 1


We can use this to derive other attributes:

data Point = Point Float Float deriving (Show, Eq)


## How are lists really defined?¶

One of the most fundamental types in programming languages is the cons cell. A cons cell is simply an ordered pair where either element may be a pointer to another.

Haskell uses cons cells to make lists as shown in the image above. In fact, [42,69,113] is really just a fancy syntax for 42:69:113:[]!

## Recursive Types¶

Suppose we wanted to make our own list type:

data List a = Empty | Cons a (List a)


Then, we can build “lists” using this notation:

-- Equivalent to [5]
(Cons 5 Empty)

-- Equivalent to [4,5]
(Cons 4 (Cons 5 Empty))

-- Equivalent to [3,4,5]
(Cons 3 (Cons 4 (Cons 5 Empty)))


What do we get if we rename Cons to : and Empty to []?

## Activity: Tree Type¶

With your learning group, create a Tree type that defines a binary tree.

Hint: Go back to our cons cell definition.

Once done, think about how you could extend the type to support $$n$$-ary trees.