# Let vs. Where

### From HaskellWiki

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This seems to be only a matter of taste in the sense of "[[Declaration vs. expression style]]", however there is more to it. | This seems to be only a matter of taste in the sense of "[[Declaration vs. expression style]]", however there is more to it. | ||

− | It is important to know that <hask>let ... in ...</hask> is an expression, | + | It is important to know that <hask>let ... in ...</hask> is an expression, that is, it can be written wherever expressions are allowed. In contrast, <hask>where</hask> is bound to a surrounding syntactic construct, like the [[pattern matching]] line of a function definition. |

− | that is, it can be written wherever expressions are allowed. | + | |

− | In contrast, <hask>where</hask> is bound to a surrounding syntactic construct, like the [[pattern matching]] line of a function definition. | + | |

== Advantages of let == | == Advantages of let == | ||

− | + | Suppose you have the function | |

<haskell> | <haskell> | ||

f :: s -> (a,s) | f :: s -> (a,s) | ||

Line 58: | Line 56: | ||

= let a = w x | = let a = w x | ||

in case () of | in case () of | ||

− | _ | cond1 x | + | _ | cond1 x -> a |

− | | cond2 x | + | | cond2 x -> g a |

− | | otherwise | + | | otherwise -> f (h x a) |

</haskell> | </haskell> | ||

Line 116: | Line 114: | ||

If you run both | If you run both | ||

+ | |||

<haskell> | <haskell> | ||

fib = (map fib' [0 ..] !!) | fib = (map fib' [0 ..] !!) | ||

Line 123: | Line 122: | ||

fib' n = fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2) | fib' n = fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2) | ||

</haskell> | </haskell> | ||

+ | |||

and | and | ||

+ | |||

<haskell> | <haskell> | ||

fib x = map fib' [0 ..] !! x | fib x = map fib' [0 ..] !! x | ||

Line 131: | Line 132: | ||

fib' n = fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2) | fib' n = fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2) | ||

</haskell> | </haskell> | ||

− | |||

− | |||

− | |||

− | You might see the reason better | + | you will notice that the second one runs considerably slower than the first. You may wonder why simply adding an explicit argument to <hask>fib</hask> (known as [[eta expansion]]) degrades performance so dramatically. |

+ | |||

+ | You might see the reason better if you rewrote this code using <hask>let</hask>. | ||

+ | |||

Compare | Compare | ||

+ | |||

<haskell> | <haskell> | ||

fib = | fib = | ||

Line 144: | Line 146: | ||

in (map fib' [0 ..] !!) | in (map fib' [0 ..] !!) | ||

</haskell> | </haskell> | ||

+ | |||

and | and | ||

+ | |||

<haskell> | <haskell> | ||

fib x = | fib x = | ||

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in map fib' [0 ..] !! x | in map fib' [0 ..] !! x | ||

</haskell> | </haskell> | ||

− | + | ||

− | + | In the second case, <hask>fib'</hask> is redefined for every argument <hask>x</hask>. The compiler cannot know whether you intended this -- while it increases time complexity it may reduce space complexity. Thus it will not float the definition out from under the binding of x.<br><br> | |

− | In contrast | + | |

− | The <hask>where</hask> clause hid this structure | + | In contrast, in the first function, <hask>fib'</hask> can be moved to the top level by the compiler. The <hask>where</hask> clause hid this structure |

and made the application to <hask>x</hask> look like a plain eta expansion, which it is not. | and made the application to <hask>x</hask> look like a plain eta expansion, which it is not. | ||

## Latest revision as of 23:34, 11 June 2014

Haskell programmers often wonder whether to uselet

where

This seems to be only a matter of taste in the sense of "Declaration vs. expression style", however there is more to it.

It is important to know thatlet ... in ...

where

## Contents |

## [edit] 1 Advantages of let

Suppose you have the function

f :: s -> (a,s) f x = y where y = ... x ...

Control.Monad.State

However, transforming to

f :: State s a f = State $ \x -> y where y = ... x ...

where

f =

x

let

f :: s -> (a,s) f x = let y = ... x ... in y

This is easily transformed to:

f :: State s a f = State $ \x -> let y = ... x ... in y

## [edit] 2 Advantages of where

Because "where" blocks are bound to a syntactic construct, they can be used to share bindings between parts of a function that are not syntactically expressions. For example:

f x | cond1 x = a | cond2 x = g a | otherwise = f (h x a) where a = w x

case

f x = let a = w x in case () of _ | cond1 x -> a | cond2 x -> g a | otherwise -> f (h x a)

or a functional equivalent:

f x = let a = w x in select (f (h x a)) [(cond1 x, a), (cond2 x, g a)]

or a series of if-then-else expressions:

f x = let a = w x in if cond1 x then a else if cond2 x then g a else f (h x a)

where

## [edit] 3 Lambda Lifting

One other approach to consider is that let or where can often be implemented using lambda lifting and let floating, incurring at least the cost of introducing a new name. The above example:

f x | cond1 x = a | cond2 x = g a | otherwise = f (h x a) where a = w x

could be implemented as:

f x = f' (w x) x f' a x | cond1 x = a | cond2 x = g a | otherwise = f (h x a)

let

where

## [edit] 4 Problems with where

If you run both

fib = (map fib' [0 ..] !!) where fib' 0 = 0 fib' 1 = 1 fib' n = fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2)

and

fib x = map fib' [0 ..] !! x where fib' 0 = 0 fib' 1 = 1 fib' n = fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2)

fib

let

Compare

fib = let fib' 0 = 0 fib' 1 = 1 fib' n = fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2) in (map fib' [0 ..] !!)

and

fib x = let fib' 0 = 0 fib' 1 = 1 fib' n = fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2) in map fib' [0 ..] !! x

fib'

x

In contrast, in the first function,

fib'

where

x

- Haskell-Cafe on Eta-expansion destroys memoization?