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Control operators

When dealing with pre-conditions, the environment in which a call takes place is very important. You introduce new information in the environment every time you use a control operator like if or when. For example, the following is accepted by Arrow Analysis, when you manually checking whether the size of the list is enough for getin the right value:

fun <A> List<A>.firstOr(default: A) =
if (this.size > 0) this.get(0) else default

If your check is not strong enough (or wrong altogether), the error message provides additional information about what is known in that branch. For example, suppose you've accidentally switched the order of the branches above:

fun <A> List<A>.firstOr(default: A): A =
if (this.size > 0) default else this.get(0)
e: Example.kt: (2, 35): pre-condition `index within bounds` is not satisfied in `get(0)`
-> unsatisfiable constraint: `((0 >= 0) && (0 < this.size))`
-> in branch: ( ! this.size > 0), cond17

This tells you that at that point you know that the size is not greater than 0 (note the ! at the beginning of the expression). Unfortunately, sometimes "garbage" formulae (such as cond17) above appear in the output. We are working on ways to prune these useless constraints, in the time being just ignore them.

The environment is also important when checking post-conditions. Whenever you have some branching operations, like if or when, the post-condition is checked on each branch separately, even when the post appears as part of a common expression. This allows Arrow Analysis to accept the following, in which whether the result is non-negative depends on the prior check over n.


fun absoluteValue(n: Int): Int = when {
n < 0 -> -n
n == 0 -> 0
else -> n
}.post({ it >= 0 }) { "result >= 0" }

Unreachable code

Being aware of the environment makes Arrow Analysis able to detect some cases of unreachable code. Here's a simple (but not very useful) example, in which we can guarantee that 1 is never returned because the case x < 0 cannot arise thanks to the pre-condition.

import arrow.analysis.pre

fun boo(x: Int): Int {
pre(x > 0) { "x must be positive" }
return if (x < 0) 1 else 2
e: unreachable code due to conflicting conditions: x < 0, (x == x), (0 == 0), (x < 0 == (x < 0)), (x > 0)
-> main function body

This is another case in which we continue working on pruning useless information from the error messages. But you can see that x < 0 and x > 0 appear in the list, and those two expressions together are inconsistent -- that is, there's no way for a value to satisfy both.

Arrow Analysis detects unreachable code in a best-effort basis. Conflicts may arise not only between pre-conditions and conditionals, but also between several conditionals, and even between the post-conditions of a function and its environment.

No higher-order support

Arrow Analysis is not able to propagate information via higher-order functions. For example, if you map the absoluteValue function defined above over a list of numbers, the knowledge that each element of the list is non-negative is not represented within the system. The following is rejected, for example:


val okButRejected = listOf(-1).map { absoluteValue(it) }.first()
.post({ it >= 0 }) { "result is non-negative" }

This does not mean that the tool is useless on such operations. In this case, we can still express the fact that the size is maintained by map, since that condition does not depend on the transformation function. As a result, the following is accepted since Arrow Analysis tracks the length of the list through map and can see that the call to first() is correct.

val ok = listOf(-1).map { absoluteValue(it) }.first()

Scope functions

There are a handful of higher-order functions which play a significant role in Kotlin programs, the so-called scope functions let, run, with, apply, and also. Given their importance, Arrow Analysis ships with special support for them: when used with a lambda as second argument, the tool can "look inside" the body during the checks.

This means you can choose whatever code style suits you best. Arrow Analysis can handle local variables,

import arrow.analysis.pre

fun double(n: Int): Int {
pre(n > 0) { "n positive" }
val z = n + n
val r = z + 1
return{ it > 0 }) { "result positive" }

as well as chains of scope functions,

import arrow.analysis.pre

fun double2(n: Int): Int {
pre(n > 0) { "n positive" }
return (n + n).let { it + 1 }
.post({ it > 0 }) { "result positive" }

Null safety

Arrow Analysis can reason about null values, in a similar way as the Kotlin compiler does. The Elvis safe call operator ?. is recognized, and in combination with the aforementioned support for scope functions. The tool can handle idiomatic code such as the following:

import arrow.analysis.pre

fun incrementNotNull(x: Int?): Int? {
pre((x == null) || (x > 0)) { "x is null or positive" }
val y = x?.let { it + 1 }
return{ (it == null) || (it > 1) }) { "null or greater than 1" }