huynhjl huynhjl - 2 months ago 5
Scala Question

Is it possible to use continuations to make foldRight tail recursive?

The following blog article shows how in F#

foldBack
can be made tail recursive using continuation passing style.

In Scala this would mean that:

def foldBack[T,U](l: List[T], acc: U)(f: (T, U) => U): U = {
l match {
case x :: xs => f(x, foldBack(xs, acc)(f))
case Nil => acc
}
}


can be made tail recursive by doing this:

def foldCont[T,U](list: List[T], acc: U)(f: (T, U) => U): U = {
@annotation.tailrec
def loop(l: List[T], k: (U) => U): U = {
l match {
case x :: xs => loop(xs, (racc => k(f(x, racc))))
case Nil => k(acc)
}
}
loop(list, u => u)
}


Unfortunately, I still get a stack overflow for long lists. loop is tail recursive and optimized but I guess the stack accumulation is just moved into the continuation calls.

Why is this not a problem with F#? And is there any way to work around this with Scala?

Edit: here some code that shows depth of stack:

def showDepth(s: Any) {
println(s.toString + ": " + (new Exception).getStackTrace.size)
}

def foldCont[T,U](list: List[T], acc: U)(f: (T, U) => U): U = {
@annotation.tailrec
def loop(l: List[T], k: (U) => U): U = {
showDepth("loop")
l match {
case x :: xs => loop(xs, (racc => { showDepth("k"); k(f(x, racc)) }))
case Nil => k(acc)
}
}
loop(list, u => u)
}

foldCont(List.fill(10)(1), 0)(_ + _)


This prints:

loop: 50
loop: 50
loop: 50
loop: 50
loop: 50
loop: 50
loop: 50
loop: 50
loop: 50
loop: 50
loop: 50
k: 51
k: 52
k: 53
k: 54
k: 55
k: 56
k: 57
k: 58
k: 59
k: 60
res2: Int = 10

Answer

The problem is the continuation function (racc => k(f(x, racc))) itself. It should be tailcall optimized for this whole business to work, but isn't.

Scala cannot make tailcall optimizations for arbitrary tail calls, only for those it can transform into loops (i.e. when the function calls itself, not some other function).