[erlang-questions] A matter of style?

Ladislav Lenart <>
Fri Aug 13 17:33:18 CEST 2010

Iñaki Garay wrote:
> Hello everyone,
> while coding a spatial indexing tree, I often use a small helper
> function within/9, which given three sets of xyz coordinates
> describing three points, returns true when first point lies within the
> bounding box created by the other two points.
> This is nothing more than:
> within(X, Y, Z, Xmin, Ymin, Zmin, Xmax, Ymax, Zmax) ->
>     (Xmin =< X) and
>     (X =< Xmax) and
>     (Ymin =< Y) and
>     (Y =< Ymax) and
>     (Zmin =< Z) and
>     (Z =< Zmax).
> I ask of you this, what difference, if any, is there between using an
> if clause and this function, and inserting the body of this function
> as a guard?
> There is the obvious code reuse when using the function, instead of
> copy-pasting the body. But it makes me do this:
>     Within = within(X, Y, Z, Xmin, Ymin, Zmin, Xmax, Ymax, Zmax),
>     if
>         Within ->
>             do_something()
>         true ->
>             {error,out_of_bounds}
>     end.
> which I dislike for personal reasons.
> Is using a guard more efficient than calling a function? Is the impact
> negligible even when done many times? Or is it a matter of style?
> Do you see a better way?


I would use "case" instead of "if" precisely because case allows
full expressions and not only guards:

case within(...) of
   true -> do_something();
   false -> {error, ouf_of_bounds}


Ladislav Lenart

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