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[CLJ-129] Add documentation to sorted-set-by detailing how the provided comparator may change set membership semantics Created: 18/Jun/09  Updated: 03/Sep/13

Status: In Progress
Project: Clojure
Component/s: None
Affects Version/s: None
Fix Version/s: None

Type: Enhancement Priority: Major
Reporter: Anonymous Assignee: Chas Emerick
Resolution: Unresolved Votes: 0
Labels: docstring


 Description   

To start, let's look at some simple default sorted-set behaviour (which uses PersistentHashMap via PersistentHashSet, and therefore uses equality/hashCode to determine identity):

user=> (sorted-set [1 2] [-5 10] [1 5])
#{[-5 10] [1 2] [1 5]}
</code></pre>

sorted-set-by uses PersistentTreeMap via PersistentTreeSet though, which implies that the comparator provided to sorted-set-by will be used to determine identity, and therefore member in the set.  This can lead to (IMO) non-intuitive behaviour:

<pre><code>
user=> (sorted-set-by #(> (first %) (first %2)) [1 2] [-5 10] [1 5])
#{[1 2] [-5 10]}

Notice that because the provided comparison fn determines that [1 2] and [1 5] have the same sort order, the latter value is considered identical to the former, and not included in the set. This behaviour could be very handy, but is also likely to cause confusion when what the user almost certainly wants is to maintain the membership semantics of the original set (e.g. relying upon equality/hashCode), but only modify the ordering.

(BTW, yes, I know there's far easier ways to get the order I'm indicating above over a set of vectors thanks to vectors being comparable via the compare fn. The examples are only meant to be illustrative. The same non-intuitive result would occur, with no easy fallback (like the 'compare' fn when working with vectors) when the members of the set are non-Comparable Java object, and the comparator provided to sorted-set-by is defining a sort over some values returned by method calls into those objects.)

I'd be happy to change the docs for sorted-set-by, but I suspect that there are others who could encapsulate what's going on here more correctly and more concisely than I.



 Comments   
Comment by Assembla Importer [ 24/Aug/10 7:45 AM ]

Converted from http://www.assembla.com/spaces/clojure/tickets/129

Comment by Assembla Importer [ 24/Aug/10 7:45 AM ]

richhickey said: Updating tickets (#127, #128, #129, #130)

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