Lindsey Kuper (lindseykuper) wrote,
Lindsey Kuper
lindseykuper

Equivalent unzippers

In an effort to become more familiar with Coq, I've been working my way through the Software Foundations book. So far, it's been more about proving things with Coq than it's been about programming with it (although the distinction is blurry). Yesterday, though, I got to this problem. As the text explains, combine, better known as zip, is a function that takes two lists and combines them into a list of pairs. (For instance, given [0, 1, 3, 18] and [true, false, false, true], it takes those two lists and "zips" them together, producing [(0, true), (1, false), (3, false), (18, true)].)

The problem asks you to do the inverse: given the list of pairs, unzip it to produce the pair of lists. At first, the only way I could think of to do it was with map:

Fixpoint map {X Y: Type} (fn : X -> Y) (lx : list X) : list Y :=
  match lx with
  | [] => []
  | x::tx => fn x :: map fn tx
  end.

Fixpoint split {X Y : Type} (lxy : list (X*Y)) 
          : (list X * list Y) :=
  (map fst lxy, map snd lxy).

Later, I realized that I could do it in one pass provided I have a couple of accumulator arguments:

Fixpoint split' {X Y : Type} (lxy : list (X*Y))
          : (list X * list Y) :=
  let fix f (res1 : list X) (res2 : list Y) (lxy : list (X*Y)) :=
    match lxy with
    | [] => (res1, res2)
    | xy::txy => f (res1 ++ [(fst xy)]) (res2 ++ [(snd xy)]) txy
    end
  in f [] [] lxy.

So, that was fun. But the larger point is that since I'm doing it in Coq, pretty soon I'll be able to do a machine-assisted proof that split and split' are equivalent, not to mention a proof that split (or split') actually is the inverse of combine. That will be even better.

Tags: programming
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