[swift-evolution] [Draft]: Introducing a striding(by:) method on 3.0 ranges

Dave Abrahams dabrahams at apple.com
Mon Apr 11 13:38:08 CDT 2016

on Sun Apr 10 2016, Xiaodi Wu <xiaodi.wu-AT-gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sun, Apr 10, 2016 at 3:58 PM, Haravikk <swift-evolution at haravikk.me> wrote:
>> On 10 Apr 2016, at 14:25, Xiaodi Wu <xiaodi.wu at gmail.com> wrote:
>> What types do you have in mind that would only support positive distances?
>> All numeric types (yes, even UInt, etc.) have signed distances, which
>> reflects the basic mathematical abstraction of a number line.
>> Say you wanted to stride through a singly-linked list, it would actually be
>> beneficial to support only forward strides, the same is true of sequences,
>> as you either may not know what the endpoint is, or would have to step
>> through the whole sequence to find it (plus buffer every value in order to
>> do-so safely).
>> A consistent behavior with signed distances is so important that we are
>> currently struggling with an interesting issue with floating point types,
>> which is that due to rounding error 10.0 + a - a != 10.0 for some values of
>> a.
>> While that’s interesting I’m not sure why the sign is important; to me a
>> stride is a width so it being negative makes no sense. For example, say I
>> laid an array of Ints, organised into groups of five (and also that I’m
>> lunatic who won’t use a tuple for this), the stride of this array is 5
>> whether I’m stepping through it forwards or backwards. Imagine I defined
>> this like so (more realistically it’d be a struct or a class):
>> typealias StridedIntegerArray:(stride:Int, array:[Int])
>> If the stride is set to 5, it’s always 5, the only thing that changes is
>> whether I want to stride from the start or end of the array, plus I could
>> things like:
>> myStridedIntegerArray.prefix(from: 2).striding(forwardBy:
>> myStridedIntegerArray.stride) // Returns element at index 2, 7, 12, etc.
> When you have a sequence returning elements at index 12, 7, 2, etc.,
> wouldn't you call the stride size -5? I would, because 12 + (-5) = 7.
>> It just occurred to me that perhaps you intended this method only for ranges
>> specifically and that perhaps I’m confusing things, but it seems to me like
>> it should be a method for all sequences (with reverse stride available on
>> collections with a reverse index type) returning a generator that only
>> returns (or computes) every Nth element, for generic sequences/collections
>> this would take the start or end index and use advanced(by:), though again,
>> I kind of feel like that should be two separate methods as well, but that’s
>> for another issue I think.
> I don't think it should be for ranges only, but ranges are the extent
> of this proposal.
> That said, my own opinion is that striding should not be available on
> sequences but on collections only. In their most commonly used form,
> integer strides take a start and end, and there is a finite number of
> things to stride over; thus, in my reasoning, strides can be extended
> to cover anything else that has a known start and end and has a finite
> number of things, which is guaranteed by conformance to Collection but
> not to Sequence. 

I dunno; it seems to me that if someone gives me a Sequence I should be
able to traverse it, skipping every other element.  I don't see why
“stride” should be inapplicable here.

> (At the moment, StrideTo/Through conforms to Sequence and not to
> Collection, but that is considered something to be fixed and we will
> see if we can address that as part of this set of stride overhauls.)
> As I see it, we agree on the problem: the current algorithm cannot
> accommodate singly linked lists and sequences because those things do
> not have a known endpoint if you begin an attempt to stride. However,
> my conclusion is the opposite of yours: namely, that they should not
> have stride. Maybe they should have something similar, but it
> shouldn't be stride.
>> On Sun, Apr 10, 2016 at 12:53 PM Haravikk via swift-evolution
>> <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
>>> On 10 Apr 2016, at 11:17, Brent Royal-Gordon <brent at architechies.com>
>>> wrote:
>>> Why not just assign it the correct sign during the init function?
>>> (0 ... 6).striding(by: 2) // [0, 2, 4, 6], end > start, so stride = by
>>> (6 ... 0).striding(by: 2) // [6, 4, 2, 0], start > end, so stride = -by
>>> One reason not to do it this way is that, if we extend `striding(by:)` to
>>> other collections, they will not be as easy to walk backwards through as
>>> this. You will have to do something like
>>> `collection.reversed().striding(by:)` which will be a hassle.
>>> Any thoughts on the alternative I mentioned a little earlier to define
>>> overloads instead of positive/negative? i.e- you would have two methods,
>>> .striding(forwardBy:) and .striding(backwardBy:). In addition to eliminating
>>> the use of a negative stride to indicate direction, this has the advantage
>>> that .striding(backwardBy:) can be defined only for types with a
>>> ReverseIndex or only for collections (as you can stride through a sequence,
>>> but only by going forward).
>>> This should also make documentation a bit clearer, otherwise you’ve got
>>> the caveat that to go backwards requires a negative value, but only if the
>>> type supports that, which a developer would then need to check. Instead it
>>> either has the backwardBy variant or not.
>>> I know that advance(by:) supports negative values, but this is actually
>>> something I wouldn’t mind seeing changed as well, as it has the same issues
>>> (passing a negative value in looks fine until you realise the type is a
>>> ForwardIndex only). It would also allow us to define Distance types that
>>> don’t support a direction, since this would be given by the choice of method
>>> called instead.
>>> Of course I’d still like to be able to define 6 … 0 or whatever, but this
>>> would at least eliminate what I dislike about using negatives for direction.
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