[erlang-questions] map elements in defined order

Ulf Wiger ulf@REDACTED
Fri Oct 27 09:25:31 CEST 2017

Actually, they ARE, in some ways.

I should have been clearer. I was, of course, referring to the uses of
records where they were never optimal in the first place, but were
tolerated e.g. because of the great convenience of referencing elements by
name in pattern-matching.

Quoted from EEP-0043:

«The idea was a data-type, a syntax-aware mapping of key-value associations
with pattern matching. A syntax similar to records but without the hassle
of compile-time dependency and with arbitrary terms as keys. Order was not
important and it could be implemented with a Hash-Array-Mapped-Trie with
good performance and memory trade-offs. This was a different approach than
to replace records. It was meant to replace records where suitable and in
other regards not be a replacement but its own _thing_.»

Further, relevant to this discussion:

«A restriction set on the implementation by the Erlang specification is
that order is total, i.e. satisfies _antisymmetry, transitivity and
- Ordered maps impose restrictions on the underlying implementation and a
hashing approach will be nearly impossible.
- The underlying structure does not need to be sorted, an order could be
produced when needed,»

The thing I tried to highlight was that "an order could be produced when
needed" is actually a bit more involved than you'd think, given that no API
function does it for you. At least if you want to reflect the internal sort
order - given that the actual implementation is NOT as described in the
EEP: "If a key or value differs, the order of the respective terms, in
Erlang term order".

You'd have to write your own sort function, in which you visit all elements
of complex structures, finding all instances of floats and ensuring that
they get the right priority.

Or... you simply do this:

lists:sort(fun(A, B) -> #{A => 0} =< #{B => 0} end, maps:to_list(Map))

As evidenced e.g. by Benoit's comment above, I believe lots of people
already rely on the order of map elements being IN SOME WAY stable. This is
likely a brittle assumption, but one that may - in time - trap the OTP team
into having to preserve the current APPARENT order.

And the apparent order does appear to be sorted, as long as only maps of
size =< 32 ("flatmaps") are inspected. For larger maps ("hashmaps"), the
order of elements returned by maps:to_list/1 indeed appears arbitrary.

Ulf W

2017-10-27 6:01 GMT+02:00 zxq9 <zxq9@REDACTED>:

> On 2017年10月26日 木曜日 21:13:07 Ulf Wiger wrote:
> > ... to use as a replacement for records.
> But they are IN NO WAY a replacement for records.
> -Craig
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> erlang-questions mailing list
> erlang-questions@REDACTED
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