Advent of Functional PHP: Day 5

Submitted by Larry on 5 December 2021 - 9:23pm

After the last two days, Day 5 of Advent of Code is almost mundane in comparison. Today we're asked to read in the definition for a series of lines and compute how many times they intersect.

The process is much the same as the previous days: Parse the incoming data into some sort of data model, then run some computations on it. And both parts will consist primarily of `pipe()` operations, since we're really just shuffling data from one form to another.

Our input data looks like this (albeit with a much larger range of coordinates):

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Advent of Functional PHP: Day 4

Submitted by Larry on 4 December 2021 - 7:41pm

Day 4 of Advent of Code has us playing bingo against a giant squid. (Don't ask; I don't understand it either.) More specifically, we want to take an input file that consists of a series of numbers that will get called, followed by a series of boards. We then need to compute which board will be the first to win, following the standard rules of bingo (although with no free space in the middle, the cheating squid...).

This sort of problem is inherently very stateful, and thus, frankly, not a good fit for functional code. It absolutely can be done in a functional way, but it's not the best fit. We're not interested in the best fit in this series, though, just how it could be done functional-style. So let's do it functional style just to say we did. Along the way we will really exercise the function composition concept, and show a few other tricks along the way.


Advent of Functional PHP: Day 3

Submitted by Larry on 4 December 2021 - 6:15pm

The third challenge in this year's Advent of Code is all about bit manipulation. We're asked to read in a series of binary numbers and interpret them in various entirely illogical ways as a form of diagnostics. (Incidentally, if you ever write a system that requires this kind of logic to debug its output, you're fired.)

In any case, we're given a file with a list of 12 digit binary numbers and asked to compute various values. In the first part, we are asked to find the most common bit (0 or 1) in each position, and the result is known as "gamma." Then we have to find the least common bit in each position, and the result is known as "epsilon." (I don't know why you would want to do this; it's all Greek to me.)

Advent of Functional PHP: Day 2

Submitted by Larry on 2 December 2021 - 11:46am

In today's challenge, we're asked to interpret a series of basic command lines from a file and update the position of our submarine accordingly. It's basically a graph walk of sorts, with instructions of up, down, and forward. (Apparently you cannot go backward, as in life.)

As with yesterday's challenge, we could do it imperatively with a foreach() loop and a couple of state variables floating around, but that conflates a whole bunch of different behaviors into one blob of code. We don't want to do that, so let's step back and consider the problem more clearly.

Advent of Functional PHP: Day 1

today's challenge asks us to interpret a list of numbers. In the first part, our goal is to determine how many elements in the list are larger than their immediate predecessor.

The imperative way would be to toss it in a `foreach()` loop and track some state along the way. But we want to be functional and avoid "track some state," because the whole point of functional programming is to avoid tracking state, as tracking state is error prone.

When looking at a foreach-style operation that has some state, my first inclination is to look at a reduce operation. A reduce operation walks over a list and performs the same operation (function) on each item, using the output of the previous iteration as an input. That is, each step takes the output of the previous operation and the next element, and produces an output. It's quite elegant.

Larry 1 December 2021 - 11:24am
Advent of Code 2021: Functional PHP

I am planning to participate in Advent of Code this year. For those not familiar with it, it's a daily coding challenge that runs through December, until Christmas. Mostly it's just for fun, but some people take it as an opportunity to either push themselves (by solving the puzzles in a language they're unfamiliar with) or to show off some feature of a language they like, which they then blog about.

In my case, I'll be solving puzzles in PHP, of course, but specifically using functional techniques. My goal is to demonstrate how functional programming in PHP is not just viable but creates really nice solutions. At least, I hope it works out that way; I haven't seen any of the challenges yet. :-)

Larry 29 November 2021 - 6:45pm

Evolving PHP safely

Submitted by Larry on 27 November 2021 - 12:37pm

This past week, the latest PHP RFC, Deprecate Dynamic Properties, passed 2:1. It just barely met the 2/3 vote threshold for passing, which of course can and has been spun in various pro-and-con ways. The RFC covers the change itself fairly well so I won't go into detail about it here.

The main argument people had against it was that it involves triggering deprecation warnings. Which... is kind of the point. That's kind of all it does.

This is not the first time that debate has come up, but it's been coming up more frequently and we, as PHP, need to improve the answer.

(Continue reading this post on PeakD.)

PHP Tricks: Lazy public readonly properties

I am apparently late in coming to this trick, but PHP 8.1 is going to make it even nicer to use.

A clever trick

There's an interesting intersection of functionality in PHP:

  • Declared object properties are more efficient than dynamic ones, because the engine can make assumptions about what data type to expect.
  • The magic `__get()` and `__set()` methods trigger when there is no property with a given name that has been *set*.
  • Fun fact: A property that has been declared but not initialized with a value is still technically "set"... to `uninitialized`.
  • However, you can `unset()` an uninitialized property.

That means you can do clever tricks like this (and some systems do, internally):

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Larry 12 November 2021 - 10:50am

Fun with PHPUnit Data Providers

Submitted by Larry on 24 August 2021 - 12:13pm

Most PHP developers are familiar with PHPUnit these days. It is the most widely used testing framework for PHP by a wide margin (although others do exist). One of its more under-utilized features, though is data providers.

Data providers are a PHPUnit feature (and many testing frameworks have an equivalent) that lets you run a single test method multiple times but with different data. Often it's presented as a way to save typing, but I find it is also a useful architectural tool, too. And there are ways to use them that are even nicer than what most people tend to do.

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