[R] chaining closure arguments on-the-fly

Duncan Murdoch murdoch@dunc@n @end|ng |rom gm@||@com
Sat Jun 20 23:04:05 CEST 2020

On 20/06/2020 4:44 p.m., Benjamin Tyner wrote:
> On 6/20/20 9:00 AM, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>> How about
>> g <- function(x, y = x) {
>>    f(x, y)
>> }
>> g(x = 3)
>> or even
>> yEqualsX <- function(f) function(x, y = x) f(x, y)
>> yEqualsX(f)(x = 3)
>> These are a lot like currying, but aren't currying, so they may be
>> acceptable to you.  Personally I'd choose the first one.
>> Duncan Murdoch
> Thank you Duncan; I should have been more explicit that I was also
> trying to avoid defining any new functions, but yes, it's hard to argue
> with the wrapper approach as a longstanding best practice.
> Basically I'm wondering if it would be theoretically possible to
> construct a function "g" (possibly it would have to be
> primitive/internal) such that
>      f(x = 3, y = g(expr))
> would evaluate expr in the evaluation environment of f? After rereading
> section 4.3.3 of the R Language Definition, it's clear that supplied
> arguments are evaluated in the calling environment; though trickery in
> f()'s body may be used to evaluate elsewhere, such options seem limited
> from within the argument list itself.

I think you effectively did that in your original post (all but 
encapsulating the expression in a function), so yes, it's possible. 
However, it's a really bad idea.  Why use non-standard evaluation when 
standard evaluation is fine?  Standard evaluation follows some well 
defined rules, and is easy to reason about.  NSE follows whatever rules 
it wants, so it's really hard for users to follow.  For example, 
assuming you had the g() you want, what would this give?

z <- 3
f(x = z, y = g(z))

You can't possibly know that without knowing whether there's a local 
variable in f named z that is created before y is evaluated.

Duncan Murdoch

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