The Algebra of Joy

by Manfred von Thun

Abstract: Joy is a functional programming language which is not based on the application of functions to arguments but on the composition of functions. The language makes extensive use of combinators which perform the role of higher order functions. The algebra of Joy programs can be used to express formal properties of many first and second order functions without using variables ranging over values or over functions. Some of these properties are idempotency, inverses, converses, commutativity, symmetry, associativity, homomorphisms and distribution. The paper also gives several analogues of concepts from category theory.

Keywords: functional programming, function composition, algebra of programs, monoids, categories, functors, natural transformations, monads.


This paper describes a rich algebra of Joy programs which can be used for formal manipulation of Joy programs. Concatenation of Joy programs denote the composition of the functions which the concatenated parts denote. Hence if Q1 and Q2 are programs which denote the same function and P and R are other programs, then the two concatenations P Q1 R and P Q2 R also denote the same function. In other words, programs Q1 and Q2 can replace each other in concatenations. This can serve as a rule of inference for rewriting.

As premises one needs axioms such as in the first three lines below, and definitions such as in the fourth line:

(+)                2  3  +   ==   5
(dup)              5  dup   ==   5  5
(*)                5  5  *   ==   25
(def square)       square  ==  dup *
A derivation using the above axioms and the definition looks like this:
                   2  3  +  square
           ==      5  square                               (+)
           ==      5  dup  *                               (def square)
           ==      5  5  *                                 (dup)
           ==      25                                      (*)
The comments in the right margin explain how a line was obtained from the previous line. The derivation shows that the expressions in the first line and the last line denote the same function, or that the function in the first line is identical with the function in the last line.

Consider the following equations in infix notation: The first says that multiplying a number x by 2 gives the same result as adding it to itself. The second says that the size of a reversed list is the same as the size of the original list.

        2 * x  =  x + x                 size(reverse(x))  =  size(x)
In Joy the same equations would be written, without variables, like this:
        2  *   ==   dup  +              reverse  size   ==   size

Other equivalences express algebraic properties of various operations. For example, the predecessor pred of the successor succ of a number is just the number itself. The conjunction and of a truth value with itself gives just the truth value. The less than relation < is the converse of the greater than relation >. Inserting a number with cons into a list of numbers and then taking the sum of that gives the same result as first taking the sum of the list and then adding the other number.

In conventional notation these are expressed by

        pred(succ(x))  =  x             x and x  =  x
        x <y  =  y > x                 sum(cons(x,y))  =  x + sum(y)
In Joy these are expressed without variables
        succ  pred   ==   id            dup  and   ==   id
        <  ==   swap >                 cons  sum   ==   sum  +
Some properties of operations have to be expressed by combinators. One of these is the dip combinator which expects a program on top of the stack and below that another value. It saves the value, executes the program on the remainder of the stack and then restores the saved value.

In the first example below, the dip combinator is used to express the associativity of addition. Another combinator is the app2 combinator which expects a program on top of the stack and below that two values. It applies the program to the two values. In the second example below it expresses one of the De Morgan laws. In the third example it expresses that the size of two lists concatenated is the sum of the sizes of the two concatenands. The last example uses both combinators to express that multiplication distributes (from the right) over addition. (Note that the program parameter for app2 is first constructed from the multiplicand and *.)

        [+]  dip  +   ==   +  +
        and  not   ==   [not]  app2  or
        concat  size   ==   [size]  app2  +
        [+]  dip  *   ==   [*]  cons  app2  +

The remainder of this paper is organised as follows: The next five sections give detailed examples of algebraic laws which Joy operators satisfy. All of these laws are well known when expressed in familiar notation, what is new here is that they can be expressed in Joy notation without the use of implicitly or explicitly universally quantified variables. Then follow three sections using concepts from category theory, but no previous knowledge is assumed.

Idempotency, inverses and unit elements

A unary function f(x) is said to be idempotent if applying it once is "as good as" applying it twice. In conventional notation this means that for all x
        f(f(x))  =  f(x)
For example, the function abs which returns the absolute value of a number is idempotent. Another one is the function defined on lists or strings which returns a sorted version - sorting an already sorted sequence makes no difference.
        abs(abs(n))  =  abs(n)          sort(sort(s))  =  sort(s)
Composition can be used to express that stack operations are idempotent. The following express the idempotency of abs and sort:
        abs abs  ==  abs                sort sort  ==  sort
Another idempotent Joy function, one which has no counterpart in conventional notation, is the newstack function, it throws away anything that is on the stack. Doing it twice in succession gives the same result as doing it once:
        newstack  newstack   ==   newstack

The remainder of this section illustrates the use of the identity function in Joy algebra. This function is denoted by the symbol id. It has the property that for all programs P,

        id  P   ==   P   ==   P  id

Let f(x) be a unary function. Another unary function g(x) is said to be its inverse if for all x

        g(f(x))  =  x
For example, the predecessor function on integers is the inverse of the successor function on integers: for all integers x
        pred(succ(x))  =  x
It may or may not be that if one function is the inverse of a second then the second is the inverse of the first. This is true of the predecessor and successor functions when defined on integers, but not when defined on natural numbers. The identity function can be used to express that one function is the inverse of another and that certain values are unit elements.

The atomic program succ denotes a function which takes a stack as argument and yields a stack as value. The argument stack has to have an integer (or a character) on top. The value stack is like the argument stack except that the integer (or character) has been incremented by 1. The semantics for pred is analogous, it decrements the integer (or character). The following express that the functions denoted by the symbols succ and pred are inverses of each other:

        pred succ  ==  id               succ pred  ==  id

The cons function expects a list on top of the argument stack. Below that it expects another value. The value that is returned is another stack which is like the argument stack except that the two top elements of the argument stack have been replaced by a new list which has the value inserted into it at the front. The uncons function undoes this. It expects a non-empty list and leaves the first and the rest of the list. The two functions are inverses of each other:

        cons uncons  ==  id             uncons cons  ==  id
It is worth pointing out this cannot be expressed in conventional notation because there the uncons operation makes no sense. Actually, both functions are polymorphic in that instead of lists they can operate on strings or on sets The two equations still hold applied to strings. Only the right equation holds for sets.

The symbols pairlist, pairstring and pairset denote functions which expect two potential members of lists, strings or sets on top of the stack. They return a new stack with the two members replaced by a single list, string or set. The polymorphic unpair function is their inverse, but not vice versa. Since unpair leaves two results, the following have no counterpart in conventional notation.

        pairlist unpair  ==  id
        pairstring unpair  ==  id
        pairset unpair  ==  id

Some functions are inverses of themselves. Examples of self-inverse functions are the Boolean negation function and the list reversal function: for all Boolean values b and for all lists l

        not(not(b))  =  b               reverse(reverse(l))  =  l
In Joy the two unary operators not and reverse are polymorphic. The not operator expects a truth value or a set on top of the stack and returns a stack which has the complementary truth value or set on top of the stack. The reverse operator expects a list or a string on top of the stack and returns a stack which has the reversal the list or string on top of the stack. The two functions are self-inverses, and this is expressed by
        not not  ==  id                 reverse reverse  ==  id

Let f(x,y) be a binary function. A constant c is called a left or right unit element if the first or the second equation holds for all x

        f(c,x)  =  x                    f(x,c)  =  x
Left and right unit elements often coincide, and then they are just called unit elements. In particular, this is true for the unit elements of commutative functions. For example, 0 is the unit element for addition, and 1 is the unit element for multiplication. In conventional infix notation:
        n + 0  =  n  =  0 + n            n * 1  =  n  =  1 * n

The identity function can also be used to express that certain literals are right unit elements for binary operations: 0 for addition, 1 for multiplication, the empty string "" or the empty list [] for concatenation, the truth value false and the empty set {} for logical disjunction and set union, and the truth value true for logical conjunction.

        0 +  ==  id                     1 *  ==  id
        "" concat  ==  id               [] concat  ==  id
        false or  ==  id                {} or  ==  id
        true and  ==  id

Idempotency, zero elements and arities

This section illustrates the dup and pop operators in Joy algebra. The Joy operator dup expects one value on top of the stack and pushes a duplicate on top. For example,
        42 dup  ==  42 42
Both sides of the equation denote compositions of two functions. On the left the first function pushes a number and the second makes a duplicate of the top element. On the right the two functions are the same, each pushes a number. The equation says that the function on the left is identical to the one on the right. Both functions are defined for all stacks, and both return a stack which is like the argument stack except that two copies of the number 42 have been pushed.

A binary function f(x,y) is called idempotent if for all x

        f(x,x)  =  x
Two examples are the Boolean conjunction and disjunction operations: for all b
        b and b  =  b                   b or b  =  b
In Joy the dup operator can express idempotency of the Boolean operations and and or which are defined for truth values and for sets. It can also express the idempotency of the numeric binary min and max operators:
        dup and  ==  id                 dup or  ==  id
        dup min  ==  id                 dip max  ==  id

The Joy operator pop expects one value on top of the stack and removes it. For example

        17 42 pop  ==  17
On the left the composition of three functions first pushes two numbers and then pops the second. On the right the function just pushes the first number. The two functions are identical since for all argument stacks they have the same result stack.

Let f(x,y) be a binary function. A constant c is called a left or right zero element of f(x,y) if the first or second equation holds for all x:

        f(c,x)  =  c                    f(x,c)  =  c
For example, the number zero is a left and right zero element for multiplication, and in conventional infix notation the laws looks like this:
        0 * n  =  0                     n * 0  =  0
The pop operator can also be used to express that particular values are zero elements for binary operations: 0 for multiplication, false and the empty set {} for logical conjunction and set intersection, and true for logical disjunction.
        0 *  ==  pop 0
        false and  ==  pop false         {} and  ==  pop {}
        true or  ==  pop true

The two operators dup and pop are related by the identity

        dup pop  ==  id
The pop operator can also be used to express the arity of a function, the number of parameters which it expects. For example, numbers are nullary, the successor function is unary, and addition is binary. There is no way to express this in conventional notation. In Joy it is expressed by:
        42 pop  ==  id        succ pop  ==  pop        + pop  ==  pop pop
Similar laws express that some operators return two results on the stack:
        uncons pop pop  ==  pop        dup pop pop  ==  pop

Converses, commutativity and symmetry

This section illustrates the use of the swap operator in Joy algebra. The Joy operator swap expects two values of any type on top of the stack; its effect is to interchange them. The operator is its own inverse:
        swap swap  ==  id

Let f(x,y) be a binary function. Another binary function g(x,y) is its converse if for all x and y

        f(x,y)  =  g(y,x)
For example, the numeric comparison relation < has as its converse the relation >:
        (i <j)  =  (j > i)
In Joy notation the swap operator can express that comparison predicates < and <= have as their converses the predicates > and >= by the laws
        swap >   ==   <                swap >=    ==    <=
The operator swons is similar to cons, it expects an aggregate and a new value on top of the stack. It leaves a new aggregate with the value inserted. But whereas cons expects the aggregate on top and the value below, swons expects them in the opposite order, the value on top and the aggregate below. It follows that swons is the converse of cons. In the same way, a binary string or list operation swoncat is defined to be the converse of concat.
        swap cons  ==  swons            swap concat  ==  swoncat

One function is the converse of a second function if and only if the second is the converse of the first. This says that converseness is a symmetric relation. In Joy it is expressed by the following: for all programs P and Q

        swap P  ==  Q    if and only if    swap Q  ==  P
From this rule and the previous equalities it follows that
        swap < ==   >                  swap <=  ==  >=
        swap swons  ==  cons            swap swoncat  ==  concat

A binary function f(x,y) is commutative if it is its own converse - if for all x and y

        f(x,y)  =  f(y,x)
For example, addition of numbers is commutative, for all integers x and y
        i + j  =  j + i
In Joy the swap operator can express that a function is commutative.
        swap +  ==  +                   swap *  ==  *
        swap and  ==  and               swap or  ==  or
        swap max  ==  max               swap min  ==  min
Two sorted sequences can be combined with the merge operator to form one new sorted sequence. Unlike concatenation, merging is commutative:
        swap merge  ==  merge

A function which yields a truth value is often called a predicate. Commutative predicates are often called symmetric. For example, the identity relation = , a binary predicate, is commutative or symmetric. Another is the equal predicate which tests lists for identity, including sublists and their sublists. In conventional notation, for all integers or lists x and y

        (i = j)  =  (j = i)        equal(x,y)  =  equal(y,x)
Turning these concepts on themselves, the converse relation is symmetric: for all functions f and g
        (g is the converse of f)  =  (f is the converse of g)
The same is not true for the inverse relation. The swap operator can express that a binary predicate is symmetric. The following express that = and equal are symmetric:
        swap =   ==   =                 swap equal  ==  equal
With swap one can express that elements are left unit elements for binary operations. In the case of operations such as addition and the Boolean operations this already follows from their commutativity. On the other hand, concatenation of strings or lists is not commutative, but the empty string and the empty list are both right and left unit elements for concatenation. They are also both right unit elements for merge.
        0 swap +  ==  id                1 swap *  ==  id
        false swap or  == id            {} swap or  ==  id
        true swap and  ==  id
        "" swap concat  ==  id          [] swap concat  ==  id
        "" swap merge  ==  id           [] swap merge  ==  id

Some operators leave two elements on top of the stack, and two such operator may be related in the sense that they just leave the elements in a different order. This can also be expressed by swap:

        uncons swap  ==  unswons        unswons swap  ==  uncons
There is even one operator which is related to itself in this way, and that is dup:
        dup swap  ==  dup

Two operators related to swap are rollup and rolldown. The rollup operator moves the third and second element on the stack into second and first position, and it moves the original first element into third position. The rolldown operator moves the second and first element on the stack into third and second position, and it moves the original third element into first position. They can express laws such as

        rolldown  concat  concat   ==   concat swoncat
        rollup  swoncat  concat   ==   swoncat  swoncat
        rollup  merge  merge   ==   merge merge
Their arities are expressed by
        swap  pop  pop   ==   pop  pop
        rollup  pop  pop  pop   ==   pop  pop  pop
        rolldown  pop  pop  pop   ==   pop  pop  pop


This section illustrates the use of the dip combinator in Joy algebra.

The three previous sections have shown how a few Joy operations can express a variety of well-known laws. In the sections to follow more difficult Joy concepts will be needed. These resemble higher order functions, but like everything else in Joy they really are just functions from stacks to stacks. They differ from what are called the operators in that they expect on top of the stack not just a passive datum, but a quoted program which they execute. In accordance with an older terminology they are here called combinators.

One of these is the dip combinator. It expects a quoted program on the top of the stack, and below at least one value of any type. During execution it removes the program and the value from the stack and saves them. Then it executes the program on the remainder of the stack. Finally it restores the saved value to the top of the stack. In most applications the program will be pushed just before the combinator is to be applied. The combinator is useful for doing something to the stack without disturbing the top value.

Here is an example:

        1 2 3 4 + * 5  ==  1 14 5
        1 2 3 4 5 [+ *] dip  ==  1 14 5
In the first line on the left the 3 and the 4 are immediately added, the result is multiplied by the 2 to give 14, and then the 5 is pushed on top. In the second line the 5 is pushed immediately after the 4, and consequently it is not possible to add the 3 and 4 without popping the 5 first. So, the program [+ *] is pushed and then executed by dip. The results are the same as those in the two (identical) right sides.

A binary function f(x,y) is said to be associative if the result of applying it twice to three values is independent of the order of application:

        f(x,f(y,z))  =  f(f(x,y),z)
For example, addition of numbers is associative:
        i + (j + k)  =  (i + j) + k
If g(x,y) is the converse of an associative f(x,y), then g(x,y) is also associative.

In Joy the dip combinator can be used to express associativity:

        [+] dip +  ==  + +              [*] dip *  ==  * *
        [and] dip and  ==  and and      [or] dip or  ==  or or
        [max] dip max  ==  max max      [min] dip min  ==  min min
        [concat] dip concat  ==  concat concat
        [swoncat] dip swoncat  ==  swoncat swoncat
        [merge] dip merge  ==  merge merge

The following law expresses that the dip combinator leaves one value unchanged:

        dip  pop   ==   [pop]  dip  i

Homomorphisms, De Morgan and distribution

This section illustrates the use of the app2 combinator in Joy algebra.

The app2 combinator expects a quoted program on top of the stack, and below that two data parameters. As with all combinators, the program will be executed, in this case twice. In case the program computes a unary function, the effect is to replace the two data parameters by two corresponding values of that function. The two evaluations could be done in parallel. The more general case where the program does not denote a unary function is described further down.

Let f(x1,x2) be a binary function defined on a type X, and let g(y1,y2) be a binary function defined on a type Y. Let h(x) be a function from X to Y. Then h(x) is a homomorphism from X and its binary function to Y and its binary function when the following holds for all x1 and x2:

        h(f(x1,x2)  =  g(h(x1),h(x2))
One example is the logarithm function which maps logarithms of products onto sums of logarithms. Two other examples are the doubling function which maps integers with addition into even integers with addition, and the squaring function which maps naturals with multiplication into square naturals with multiplication and the size (or length) of string function which maps the size of concatenations onto sums of sizes. The De Morgan laws are another example.
        log(x * y)  =  log(x) + log(y)
        double(x + y)  =  double(x) + double(y)
        square(x * y)  =  square(x) * square(y)
        size(concat(x,y))  =  size(x) + size(y)
        not(p and q)  =  not p or not q
        not(p or q)  =  not p and not q

In Joy the app2 combinator can be used to express homomorphism laws, and these all take the form:

        f  h   ==   [h]  app2  g
Some such laws are
        +  double   ==   [double]  app2  +
        *  square   ==   [square]  app2  *
        max  succ   ==   [succ]  app2  max
        concat  size   ==   [size]  app2  +
        concat  sum   ==   [sum]  app2  +
        concat  product   ==   [product]  app2  *
        concat  charset   ==   [charset]  app2  or
In the above, charset transforms a string of characters into a set of characters, and the or operator computes set union in this case. Another homomorphism is the sort operator which maps unordered lists under concatenation onto ordered lists under a binary merge operator which preseves ordering:
        concat  sort   ==   [sort]  app2  merge

The app2 combinator can also be used to express the familiar De Morgan laws for Boolean algebra and a (perhaps surprising) isomorphic pair of laws for strings or lists:

        and not  ==  [not] app2 or
        or not  ==  [not] app2 and
        concat reverse  ==  [reverse] app2 swoncat
        swoncat reverse  ==  [reverse] app2 concat

Laws like the above generalise to distribution laws. In these the unary function is replaced by a new binary function, and for each element in the domain a unary function can be defined from the new binary function by letting one parameter be the given element. It is useful to distinguish right distribution and left distribution.

A binary function f(x,y) distributes from the right over another binary function g(x,y) if the following holds:

        f(g(x,y),z)  =  g(f(x,z),f(y,z))
In arithmetic we have the familiar example of multiplication distributing from the right over addition. In Boolean algebra the conjunction and disjunction operators distribute from the right over each other. Here is the arithmetic law:
        (i + j) * k  =  (i * k) + (j * k)

The app2 combinator can also express right distribution laws. In each case there are three data parameters on the stack, and the two ways of applying two functions are equivalent. The one way is to apply the one function to the second and third parameters (using the dip combinator) and then to apply the distributing function to the result and the first parameters. The other way is to use the first parameter and the distributing function to make a constructed program that computes a unary function, use app2 to compute its values for the second and third data parameters and to combine the two values with the other function.

        [+] dip *  ==  [*] cons app2 +
        [and] dip or  ==  [or] cons app2 and
        [or] dip and  ==  [and] cons app2 or

A binary function f(x,y) distributes from the left over another binary function g(x,y) if the following holds:

        f(x,g(y,z))  =  g(f(x,z),f(y,z))
In arithmetic multiplication also distributes from the left over addition:
        i * (j + k)  =  i * j + i * k
The app2 combinator can also be applied to a quoted program which does not compute a unary function, but accesses data elements further down in the stack. In the examples below, these elements have to be explicitly deleted later on, by [pop] dip. It can be used to express left distribution laws.
        + *  ==  [*] app2 + [pop] dip
        or and  ==  [and] app2 or [pop] dip
        and or  ==  [or] app2 and [pop] dip

Apart from app2 there are similar combinators app1 and app3. Each expects a program [P] on top of the stack and below that 1, 2 or 3 further parameters and produces 1, 2 or 3 values. Some pertinent laws are

        [succ]  app1  ==  succ            [not]  app1  ==  not
        [pop]  dip  app1   ==   app2  pop
        [swap]  dip  app2   ==   app2  swap
        [dup]  dip  app2   ==   app1  dup
The arities of these combinators are expressed by
        app1  pop   ==   pop  pop
        app2  pop  pop   ==   pop  pop  pop
        app3  pop  pop  pop   ==   pop  pop  pop  pop

There is a sense in which one might say that an integer has two parts: a sign and an absolute value. When the two parts are multiplied, the result is the same as the original. In the same way, a non-empty list has two parts, its first and its rest. When the first is consed into the rest, the result is the same as the original list. In conventional notation this might be expressed as

        sign(x) * abs(x)  =  x
        cons(first(x),rest(x))  =  x
The same may be expressed in Joy notation using the dip combinator:
        dup [sign] dip abs *  ==  id
        dup [first] dip rest cons  ==  id

The laws look somewhat cleaner when expressed in terms of another combinator. The cleave combinator expects two programs and below that another item. It applies both programs to produce two results, for example

        5  [pred]  [dup *]  cleave   ==   4  25
The earlier laws about parts and wholes can then be expressed like this:
        [sign]  [abs]  cleave  *   ==   id
        [first]  [rest]  cleave  cons   ==  id

The combinator split applied to a list and a test predicate produces two lists, those members of the original list which pass the test and those with fail. For any predicate, a list will have two parts which can be merged to reconstitute the original list. In Joy notation:

        [sort] dip split merge   ==   pop  sort
The law cannot be expressed in conventional notation because split produces two results.

The LIST functor and its natural transformations

This section uses several concepts from category theory. The following brief sketch is unavoidably superficial, for a proper exposition see {Rydeheard85} {Poigne92}. For excellent short introductions for computer science see {Tennent91} and {Walters91}. Another short introduction with an extensive bibliography is {Pierce91}.

A category consists of a collection of objects and for any two objects a collection of morphisms, each having the one object as their source and the other object as their target. In many categories the objects are just sets, or they are sets with structure - algebras. Then the morphisms are unary functions from sets to sets, or they are homomorphisms from algebras to algebras. For any object the morphisms must include an identity morphism with that object as source and target. Often there will be other morphisms with that object as source and target. For any object and two morphisms having a given object as target and source respectively, there must be a composite morphism having as source the source of the one component and as target the target of the other.

This composition of morphisms must be associative, with identity morphisms as left and right unit elements. These requirements are satisfied for categories of sets and functions and for categories of algebras and homomorphisms. But there are many categories that are quite different. One kind of example are monoids: an associative binary operation over a set which includes a left and right unit element. Here the category consists of just one object (which is of no interest), but many morphisms, the elements of the monoid. There are many other kinds of categories which are different again.

Categories deal with two sorts of things, objects and morphisms. So they are two-sorted algebras. Between categories there are morphisms called functors. These take objects and morphims of one category into objects and morphisms of another category. In computer science the most familiar functors are the type constructors. They take integers, characters, truth values and so on into LISTs of integers, LISTs of characters, SETs of integers and so on. The functors must also take integer functions such as squaring into corresponding functions on LISTs or SETs of integers.

In computing circles the corresponding functions are usually written map(square,L), for a list L. In category theory the same symbol is used for objects and morphisms, so the examples are written LIST(integer) and LIST(square). In Joy there is no explicit type notation at all, and map is just one of many combinators. Programs to compute the list of squares of a given list can be written in either of these two ways:

        [square]  map                   [dup *]  map

Between any two functors F and G there can be functions called natural transformations. These take as arguments the values of F and G at their objects. A function n is natural if for all morhisms m in the domains of F and G the following holds for all x:

        n(F(m)(x))  =  G(m)(n(x))
Initially we shall only be concerned with the case where F and G are the same functor LIST. Then an example of a natural transformation from lists to lists is the reverse function: for all functions f and lists L
        reverse(LIST(f)(L)  =  LIST(f)(reverse(L))
or in conventional notation
        reverse(map(f,L))  =  map(f,reverse(L))
In Joy algebra the naturality of reverse is expressed by
        [reverse]  dip  map   ==   map  reverse

In computer science natural transformations are often called polymorphic functions, in the case of lists they are independent of the type of the elements of the lists. Four other naturality laws, expressed in conventional notation:

        map(f,rest(L))  =  rest(map(f,L))
        f(first(L))  =  first(map(f,L))
        map(f,concat(L1,L2))  =  concat(map(f,L1),map(f,L2))
        map(f,cons(x,[]))  =  cons(f(x),[])
        map(f,unitlist(x))  =  unitlist(f(x))
The last two laws of course say the same thing. In Joy these would be expressed by
        [rest]  dip  map   ==   map  rest
        [first]  dip  i   ==   map  first
        [concat]  dip  map   ==   [map]  cons  app2  concat
        [[] cons] dip map   ==   i [] cons
        [unitlist] dip map   ==   i  unitlist
Note that in the third equation on the right the app2 combinator has to use a constructed program. The last two laws again say the same thing.

Somewhat more difficult is the naturality of cons. In conventional notation this is expressed by

        map(f,cons(x,L))  =  cons(f(x),map(f,L))
and in Joy notation by
        [cons]  dip  map   ==   dup  [dip]  dip  map  cons
This is so complex that a step-by-step verification is called for. Let L and x be the list and the additional member. Let [F] be a program which computes the function f. Let x' be the result of applying f to x, and let L' be the result of applying f to all members of L. The proof of the equivalence of the LHS and the RHS consists in showing that both reduce to the same program. For the LHS we have:
        x  L  [F]  [cons]  dip  map                             LHS
    ==  x  L  cons  [F]  map                                    (dip)
    ==  [x L]  [F]  map                                         (cons)
    ==  [x' L']                                                 (map)
For the RHS:
        x  L  [F]  dup  [dip]  dip  map  cons                   RHS
    ==  x  L  [F]  [F]  [dip]  dip  map  cons                   (dup)
    ==  x  L  [F]  dip  [F]  map  cons                          (dip)
    ==  x'  L  [F]  map  cons                                   (dip)
    ==  x'  L' cons                                             (map)
    ==  [x' L']                                                 (cons)
The two sides reduce to the same program, so they denote the same function.

A similar equation is the following:

        map   ==   [uncons]  dip  dup  [dip]  dip  map  cons
But note that this is not suitable as a definition, since the RHS only applies to non-empty lists. The following is a suitable recursive definition:
        map   ==   [ pop null ]
                   [ pop ]
                   [ [uncons]  dip  dup  [dip]  dip  map  cons ]

The fact that map does not change the number of elements in a list is expressed in conventional notation by

        size(map(f,L))  =  size(L)
and in Joy notation by
        map  size   ==   pop  size

An important combinator for any aggregate is filter, which expects an aggregate and below that a quotation which implememnts a predicate. It returns an aggregate of the same type as the parameter containing only those members for which the predicate yielded true. Given two aggregates, it does not matter whether they are first combined and then filtered, or first filtered separately and then combined. For sequences the law is this:

        [concat] dip filter  ==  [filter] cons app2 concat
For sets the combining operator has to be or instead of concat.

Another law concerns passing an aggregate first through one filter and then passing the result through another filter. Passing the aggregate through the conjunction of these filters produces the same result. The conjoin operator takes two quoted predicates and returns one quoted predicate which is their conjunction.

        [filter] dip filter  ==  conjoin filter

The following laws concern the sums and products of lists of integers:

        cons  sum   ==   sum  +         sum   ==   uncons  sum  +
        cons product  ==  product *     product  ==  uncons product *
(Only the equations on the left could be expressed in conventional notation.)

This holds:

        P  ==  uncons Q   iff   cons P  == Q

Other functors and their natural transformations

As indicated in the previous section, apart from LIST there are other functors such as SET. So there is the type SET(integer), the function SET(square) which maps a set of integers into the set of their squares, and similarly for other integer functions. Much of what was said about lists and their natural transformations has counterparts for sets and their natural transformations. In Joy there are several implementations of set types. The simplest is in terms of bitstrings with potential elements 0 .. 31, such sets are written in curly braces, as in {1 3 5}. Values of this type can be manipulated by the combinator map and the operators first, rest and cons. Instead of the operator concat the set union operator or applies. The naturality of these operators is expressed by
        [rest]  dip  map   ==   map  rest
        [first]  dip  map   ==   map  first
        [or]  dip  map   ==   [map]  cons  app2  or
        [{} cons]  dip  map   ==   i  {}  cons
        [cons]  dip  map   ==   dup  [dip]  dip  map  cons

Now we have two functors, LIST and SET. Lists have order and may have repetitions, sets have neither. A useful function from lists to sets is the function elements which removes order and repetitions. For example, in Joy notation

        [ 3 1 5 1 ]  elements   ==   { 1 3 5 }
It makes no difference whether the set of elements of a list is taken first and then the set is mapped through a function, or whether the list is first mapped through the same function and then the set of elements is taken. This is the naturality of the elements function, expressed by
        [elements]  dip  map   ==   map  elements
For example:
        [ 3 1 5 1 ]  [dup *]  [elements]  dip  map
    ==  [ 3 1 5 1 ]  elements  [dup *]  map
    ==  { 1 3 5 }  [dup *]  map
    ==  { 1 9 25 }
        [ 3 1 5 1 ]  [dup *]  map  elements
    ==  [ 9 1 25 1 ]  elements
    ==  { 1 9 25 }

Halfway between lists and sets are multisets or bags; these have no order but may have repetitions. A BAG functor would be similar to LIST and SET, and there would be natural transformations from bags to bags, from lists to bags, and from bags to sets. Currently Joy does not have an implementation of bags.

A list can have as its members other lists, for example lists of integers. Formally these are of type LIST(LIST(integer)). This uses the LIST functor composed with itself: LIST ° LIST. Such a list can be mapped through a function by mapping each sublist, for example

        [[1 2 3][4 5]]  [[dup *] map]  map   ==   [[1 4 9][16 25]]
Here the second map is applied to the whole list, the first or inner map is applied to the sublists. Alternatively a combinator mmap can be defined by
        mmap   ==   [map]  cons  map
and then one can write
        [[1 2 3][4 5]]  [dup *]  mmap  ==  [[1 4 9][16 25]]

Whereas a list is one-dimensional, a matrix is two-dimensional. Matrices can be implemented as lists of lists, and the sublists can be interpreted either as the rows or the columns. One important operation on matrices is the interchange of rows and columns. The transpose operator does just that:

        [[1 2][3 4]]  transpose   ==   [[1 3][2 4]]
Transposition is another polymorphic function or natural transformation for matrices. It does not matter whether a matric is first transposed and then mapped elementwise through a function, or whether it is first mapped and then transposed.
        [transpose]  dip  mmap   ==   mmap  transpose

The operator zip will transform two lists of the same length into a list of pairs, for example

        [1 2 3]  [4 5 6]  zip   ==   [[1 4][2 5][3 6]]
The zip operator can be defined by
        zip   ==   []  cons  cons  transpose
The zip function is natural, zipping the two lists and then mmaping has the same effect as mapping and then zipping:
        [zip]  dip  mmap   ==   [map]  app2  zip

A similar naturality law holds for the cartproduct operator which produces the cartesian product of two aggregates which do not have to be of the same type:

        [cartproduct] dip  mmap   ==   [map] app2  cartproduct

Another useful datatype is that of trees, also called recursive lists. A tree of integers is either an integer or a list of trees of integer. A proper tree is a list of trees. The type gives rise to a functor TREE, with the data type TREE(integer) and mapping functions such as TREE(square). In Joy the combinator for tree mapping is treemap. Most of the operations on lists also apply to proper trees. Reversal can be done by reverse just at the top level, or by treereverse all the way down into all sublists. Some naturality laws are:

        [reverse]  dip  treemap   ==   treemap  reverse
        [treereverse]  dip  treemap   ==   treemap  treereverse
        [rest]  dip  treemap   ==   treemap  rest
        [first]  dip  i   ==   treemap  first
        [[] cons]  dip  treemap   ==   treemap  []  cons

Proper trees can be treeflattened to form a one-level list. For example

        [ [1 [2 3] [] 4] [5] ]  treeflatten   ==   [ 1 2 3 4 5 ]
The treeflattening function is a natural transformation between the TREE and LIST functors, the order of treeflattening and mapping does not matter:
        [treeflatten]  dip  map   ==   treemap  treeflatten
The following also holds:
        treereverse  treeflatten   ==   treeflatten  reverse

A bare tree is either the empty list [] or it is a list of bare trees. Formally there is a functor BARETREE, and for (degenerate) functions which can only take [] as parameters BARETREE(f) maps bare trees with contained [] into trees. Proper trees can also be stripped of their leaves to form a bare tree:

        [ [1 [2 3] [] 4] [5] ]  strip   ==   [ [ [] [] ] [] ]
The strip function commutes with reverse and treereverse:
        reverse  strip   ==   strip  reverse
        treereverse  strip   ==   strip  treereverse
Once stripped, there is nothing for treemap to do:
        [strip]  dip  treemap   ==   treemap  strip   ==   pop strip

The LIST monad

This section gives a superficial sketch of monads, another useful concept from category theory. For a fuller exposition see {Arbib-Manes75}, {Asperti-Longo91} and especially {Wadler92}.

A monad M over a category consists of a functor from the category to itself, and two natural transformations. The first transformation joinM takes as argument an object in the target of the square of the functor and gives as value an object in the target of the functor. The second transformation unitM takes as argument an object in the category and gives as value an object in the target of the functor. The two transformations must satisfy two laws which are expressed in terms of two variants obtained by applying the functor to the two transformations:

From the first transformation one can define a variant by applying the functor to it. This variant is again a natural transformation, it takes as argument an object in the target of the cube of the functor and gives as value an object in the target of the square of the functor. The first transformation or its variant may be composed with the first transformation. The two compositions are again natural transformations, they take as argument an object in the cube of the functor and give as value an object in the target of the functor. The first defining law for monads is that these two compositions must be identical.

Similarly, from the second transformation one can define a variant by applying the functor to it. This variant is again a natural transformation, it takes as argument and value objects in the target of the functor. The second transformation or its variant may be composed with the first transformation. The two compositions take as argument an value objects in the target of the functor. The second defining law for monads is that these two compositions must both be equal to the identity function.

The above will now be illustrated with the LIST monad. Its functor is the LIST functor. Its first natural transformation is usually called flatten, which concatenates a two-level list to produce a single-level list. Its second natural transformation is the unary unitlist operation which takes any argument to produce its singleton list. Here are two examples:

        [[1 2 3] [peter paul]] flatten  ==  [1 2 3 peter paul]
        [[1 2 3] [peter paul]] unitlist  ==  [[[1 2 3] [peter paul]]]
The two required variants are obtained by applying the LIST functor, as map.

The variant of the flatten operator is the polymorphic operator

        [flatten]  map
which takes a list of (lists of lists) as argument and concatenates the (list of lists) but leaves the outer level list structure intact. This is an example:
        [[[1 2] [3]] [[a] [b]]]  [flatten] map  ==  [[1 2 3] [a b]]
The first monad law can now be written in Joy notation. It says that there are two equivalent ways of flattening a list of lists of lists to produce a list:
        [flatten]  map  flatten   ==   flatten  flatten

The variant of unitlist is the polymorphic operator

        [unitlist] map
which takes a list of elements and produces the list of their unitlists. An example is
        [1 2 [3 4]]  [unitlist] map   ==   [[1] [2] [[3 4]]]
The second monad law can now be written in Joy as
        [unitlist] map  flatten   ==   id   ==   unitlist  flatten

As natural transformations both flatten and unitlist interact with the LIST functor operating (as map) on arbitrary functions. There are two further laws that arise. Because these two laws are more general than the preceding ones, they are also more useful:

A list of lists can be mapped at the second level through an arbitrary function using the mmap combinator, producing another list of lists. That can then be flattened to produce a single level list. The same original list of list can first be flattened to produce a single level list which can then be mapped at the top level using map. The two results are the same, and in Joy this is expressed as

        mmap  flatten   ==   [flatten] dip  map

A function may be applied to an argument of any type, and then the unitlist can be taken. Alternatively the unitlist can be taken first and then the result can be mapped through the function. That the results are the same can be written in Joy as

        i  unitlist   ==   [unitlist] dip  map

{Wadler92} shows that in any monad it is possible to define another natural transformation, monadic composition which simultaneously resembles function application and function composition. For the LIST monad it takes as one of its arguments a list and as the other argument a function which yields a list as value. The result is again a list. In Joy it might be defined by

        bind   ==   map  flatten
It satisfies the following laws:
        [unitlist] dip  bind   ==   i
        [unitlist] bind   ==   id
        [K [H] bind] bind  ==  [K] bind  [H] bind
The first two laws say that unitlist is a left and right identity for bind, the third says that bind is associative. The third law is here expressed with program variables K and H. Alternatively it is expressed by
        [bind] cons  concat  bind   ==   [bind] dip  bind
Wadler makes extensive use of many bind-like functions for monads other than the LIST monad.

A very general theory of lists, without the use of category theory, is given in {Bird86}. A very readable introduction to the LIST functor can be found in {Spivey89}. The theory of lists is generalised by {Malcolm89} to what have been called rose trees. {Meijer-etal91} give a comprehensive collection of laws of functional programming using very general functional forms for lists and other data types. {Bird-deMoor92} use categories, homomorphisms and algebraic techniques to solve sophisticated optimisation problems in functional programming. It appears that most, and perhaps even all, of the contributions in the above papers can be translated into Joy notation.