Second Order Functions
sa.engine functions are internally represented as any other objects and stored in the database. Object representing functions can be used in functions and queries too. An object representing a function is called a functional. Second order functions are functions that take functionals as arguments or results.
For example, the second order system function
functionnamed() retrieves the functional
fno having a given name
functionnamed(Charstring fn) -> Function fno
Another example of a second order function is the system function
apply(Function fno, Vector argl) -> Bag of Vector
apply() calls the functional
fno with the vector
argl as argument list. The result tuples are returned as a bag of vectors.
returns the vector
[4.4] Notice how
apply() represents argument lists and result tuples as vectors.
When using second order functions one often needs to retrieve a functional
fno given its name. The function
functionnamed() provides one way to achieve this. A simpler way is often to use functional constants, for example:
A functional constant is translated into the functional with the name uniquely specified by the string constant. For example, the following expression
apply(#'mod',[4,3]) returns the vector
Notice that an error is raised if the function name specified in a functional constant does not uniquely identifying the functional. This happens if it is the generic name of an overloaded function. For example, the functional constant
#'plus' is illegal, since
plus() is overloaded. For overloaded functions the name of a resolvent has to be used instead.
apply(#'plus',[2,3.5]) generates an error, while
apply(#'number.number.plus->number', [2,3.5]) returns the vector
You can use generic functions when applying non-unique resolvents, in which case apply will dynamically choose the correct resolvent based on the types in the argument vector.
[5.5]. This call will be somewhat slower than
apply(#'number.number.plus->number',[2,3.5]) since the resolvent is selected using late binding.
The transitive closure function
tclose() is a second order function to explore graphs where the edges are expressed by a transition function specified by argument
tclose(Function fno, Object o) -> Bag of Object
tclose() applies the transition function
fno(fno(fno(o))), etc. until
fno returns the empty result. Because of the Daplex semantics, if the transition function
fno returns a bag of values for some argument
o, the successive applications of
fno will be applied on each element of the result bag. The result types of a transition function must either be the same as the argument types or a bag of the argument types. Such a function that has the same arguments and (bag of) result types is called a closed function.
For example, assume the following definition of a graph defined by the transition function
create function arcsto(Integer node)-> Bag of Integer n as stored
set arcsto(1) = bag(2,3)
set arcsto(2) = bag(4,5)
set arcsto(5) = bag(1)
tclose(#'arcsto', 1) traverses the graph starting in node 1. It will return the bag:
In general the function
tclose() traverses a graph where the edges (arcs) are defined by the transition function. The vertexes (nodes) are defined by the transition function
fno, where a call to the transition function
fno(n) defines the neighbors of the node
n in the graph. The graph may contain loops and therefore
tclose() will remember what vertexes it has visited earlier and stop further traversals for vertexes already visited. You can also query the inverse of
tclose(), i.e. from which nodes
f can be reached.
from Integer f
where 1 in tclose(#'arcsto',f)
will return the bag
If you know that the graph to traverse is a tree or a directed acyclic graph (DAG) you can instead use the faster function:
traverse(Function fno, Object o) -> Bag of Object
tclose(), the children in the tree to traverse is defined by the transition function
fno. The tree is traversed in pre-order depth first. Leaf nodes in the tree are nodes for which
fno returns empty result. The function
traverse() will not terminate if the graph is circular. Nodes are visited more than once for acyclic graphs having common subtrees.
A transition function may have extra arguments and results, as long as the function is closed. This allows to pass extra parameters to a transitive closure computation.
For example, to compute not only the transitive closure, but also the distance from the root of each visited graph node, specify the following transition function:
create function arcstod(Integer node, Integer d) -> Bag of (Integer,Integer)
as select arcsto(node),1+d
tclose(#'arcstod',1,0) will return the bag:
Notice that only the first argument and result in the transition function define graph vertices's, while the remaining arguments and results are extra parameters for passing information through the traversal, as with
arcstod(). Notice that there may be no more than three extra parameters in a transition function.
iterate() applies a function
iterate(Function fn, Number maxdepth, Object x) -> Object r
The iteration is initialized by setting x0=x. Then xi+1= fn(xi) is repeatedly computed until one of the following conditions hold: 1. there is no change (xi = xi+1), or 2.
fn() returns nil (xi+1 =nil), or 3. an upper limit maxdepth of the number of iterations is reached for xi.
There is another overloaded variant of
iterate() that accepts an extra parameter
p passed into fn(xi,p) in the iterations.
iterate(Function fn, Number maxdepth, Object x0, Object p) -> Object r
This enables flexible termination of the iteration since
fn(x,p) can return
nil based on both