[erlang-questions] Wrong advertised spec of lists:append/2

Pierre Fenoll <>
Sat Mar 30 13:47:50 CET 2013


Well, as Norton said, I was just expecting a badarg to get thrown.
Here nothing gets thrown thus a bug gets harder to find…


On 30 March 2013 11:10, <> wrote:

> >> It's not a contradiction, as kostis noted specs are not complete
> >> enumerations of all possible argument types.
> >
> > Well, lists:append/2 asks for a list() as a second argument. Shouldn't
> > it badarg when I give it 'a', as in lists:append([], a) ?
>
> Why?
> Remember that the definition
>  append([X|Xs], Ys) -> [X|append(Xs, Ys)];
>  append([],     Ys) -> Ys.
> is primary.  That has been around since day 1.  The spec
> is a very late addition indeed which is a useful apprimation
> of the original behaviour, and says *NOTHING* about what
> will happen if you violate the precondition.
>
> This definition of append is a historic one from Lisp:
> Welcome to Clozure Common Lisp Version 1.5-r13651  (DarwinX8632)!
> ? (append '(a b) 'c)
> (A B . C)
> and Scheme:
> Gambit v4.4.3
> > (append '(a b) 'c)
> (a b . c)
> It's essentially the same as what's found in Prolog:
> ?- append([a,b], c, Zs).
> Zs = [a, b|c].
>
> Remember, a function specification says what the result will
> be *IF* the arguments have a certain form, and says *NOTHING*
> about the behaviour of the function if they do not.
>
>
>
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