Programming with Arrows

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Abstract

Consider this simple Haskell definition, of a function which counts the number of occurrences of a given word w in a string:

count w = length . filter (==w) . words

This is an example of “point-free” programming style, where we build a function by composing others, and make heavy use of higher-order functions such as filter. Point-free programming is rightly popular: used appropriately, it makes for concise and readable definitions, which are well suited to equational reasoning in the style of Bird and Meertens [2]. It’s also a natural way to assemble programs from components, and closely related to connecting programs via pipes in the UNIX shell.