# More prefixes

- Magnus Therning

As Edward pointed out the code in the previous post expressions such as `a .+. b .+. c`

are problematic. By expanding the expression and introducing a few parentheses it becomes apparent what the problem is:

The problem is that inner `fromIB`

. Unfortunately GHC doesn’t realise that the left-most sum could take on any type that is a `CIB`

, the exact type doesn’t really matter since the result is passed to `toIB`

anyway. It would be sort of cool if I could tell the compiler to prefer a specific `CIB`

, basically a directive along the lines of “if in doubt, use `Bytes`

”. I don’t think that’s possible in GHC. As it stands one would have to specify the type of the inner sum:

One possible solution would be to remove the call to `fromIB`

from the definition of `.+.`

and instead require the user to call it explicitly:

I suppose it’s all right, but not quite as elegant as I had hoped.

Now on to the more interesting part of Edward’s comment. I needed quite a bit of clarification, but I now know what he is proposing, I even think I understand it ;-)

The general idea is to have the compiler choose the largest prefix that can represent the sum of two values without losing precision. The represention I used didn’t have the problem of ever losing precision, so I’ll change the representation to better show what Edward meant.

First off I need some extensions to GHC:

Now the prefixes are represented with a single integer (or rather a single instance of `Num`

). This is easily done thanks to `GeneralizedNewtypeDeriving`

.

```
newtype Bytes a = Bytes a
deriving (Eq, Show, Num)
newtype KBytes a = KBytes a
deriving (Eq, Show, Num)
newtype KiBytes a = KiBytes a
deriving (Eq, Show, Num)
```

Now I need a typeclass to bind together two types in a ‘lesser-than-or-equal’ relationship and provide a conversion function:

Now the relation has to be implemented for the prefixes. In short the following says that `Bytes`

is the less than both `KBytes`

and `KiBytes`

and that each prefix is less than or equal to itself:

```
instance LEq Bytes Bytes where
lower = id
instance LEq KBytes KBytes where
lower = id
instance LEq KiBytes KiBytes where
lower = id
instance LEq KBytes Bytes where
lower (KBytes k) = Bytes $ k * 10^3
instance LEq KiBytes Bytes where
lower (KiBytes ki) = Bytes $ ki * 2 ^ 10
```

Now there’s a second relationship that is designed to relate two prefixes to a third one. Basically the third is the largest prefix that can be used to represent the sum of the other two without a loss of precision. One could say that the third is where the other two meet.

I have to manually define where the different prefixes meet:

```
instance Meet Bytes Bytes Bytes
instance Meet KBytes Bytes Bytes
instance Meet Bytes KBytes Bytes
instance Meet KiBytes Bytes Bytes
instance Meet Bytes KiBytes Bytes
instance Meet KBytes KBytes KBytes
instance Meet KBytes KiBytes Bytes
instance Meet KiBytes KBytes Bytes
instance Meet KiBytes KiBytes KiBytes
```

Now I can define addition and subtraction in terms of `Meet`

instances:

```
(.+.) :: (Meet s t u, Num a, Num (u a)) => s a -> t a -> u a
(.+.) a b = (lower a) + (lower b)
(.-.) :: (Meet s t u, Num a, Num (u a)) => s a -> t a -> u a
(.-.) a b = (lower a) - (lower b)
```

Finally I’ve arrived at the destination, but as so often I have to admit that the journey was at least half the fun.