Contents
Pattern Matching
Introduction
Pattern Matching Constructs
    Match Expression
    Binding Patterns
    Functions
    Exception Handling
Patterns

Introduction

This article discusses pattern matching in Ela and lists all available patterns.

Pattern Matching Constructs

Match Expression

The main language construct for pattern matching is match expression. It has the following syntax:
"match" expr "with"
        pattern [ "|" guard ] = expr
Match expression can have one or more entries. An entry consists of a pattern, an optional boolean guard and expression that is evaluated if an entry is successfully matched. Here is an example of a simple match expression:
match [1,2,3] with
      x::[] = Some x
      x::xs = Some xs
      []    = None
All match entries should be indented after the match keyword. The order of pattern is significant as soon as patterns are always processed in order. For example, if we change the order of patterns in the example above like so:
match [1,2,3] with
      x::xs = Some xs
      x::[] = Some x
      []    = None
the second pattern x::[] would be unreachable because pattern x::xs is more generic and is tested earlier. In other words a pattern x::xs matches a single element list and multiple element list as well, but pattern x::[] only matches a single element list.
You can also use guards in match entries in the same manner as in bindings. Here is an example of a guarded entry:
match [1,2,3] with
      x::[] | x > 0 = Some x
            | else  = None
      x::xs = Some xs
Also it is possible to use where bindings to declare names that are scoped to a particular match entry:
match [1,2,3] with
      x::[] | gtz  = Some x
            | else = None
            where gtz = x > 0
      x::xs = Some xs
If none of the patterns match, than a MatchFailed exception is raised. This exception can be handled in Ela code, however if you wish to prevent generation of this exception you can add a so called "default" to clause to a match expression.
For example, the match expression above is non-exhaustive - it will fail for an empty list. Adding a default clause like so:
match [1,2,3] with
      x::[] | gtz  = Some x
            | else = None
            where gtz = x > 0
      x::xs = Some xs
      _     = Error
will prevent generation of an exception.
Default clause should be always the very last entry as soon as it matches any value. Usually a wildcard _ pattern is used in default clause. This pattern matches any value and disregards this value. However if you need this value, you can a use name pattern instead (it will also match any value and additionally bind this value to a given name).

Binding Patterns

You can also use pattern matching in global and local bindings. Basically these bindings are always defined using pattern matching with name pattern as a trivial case:
xs = [1..10]
It is possible however to use any patterns and guards in bindings as well:
(x::xs) = [1..10]
(Some x) = Some 42

Functions

One can use pattern matching in function definition - specifically in the parameter list like so:
tail (x::xs) = xs
In such a case patterns are separated by spaces and one pattern matches exactly one argument. When matching inside an argument list all patterns, except of name and wildcard pattern, should be enclosed in parenthesis.

Exception Handling

A construct used for exception handling - try expression - has effectively the same syntax as match expression with try keyword instead of match. The major difference is that it doesn't match a given expression but executes it and if (and only if) this expression fails matches an exception object.
try 2 / 0 with
    m = m

Patterns

All patterns can be divided in two groups - irrefutable patterns that always match (such as name pattern that always does the binding even if the value is unit) and refutable patterns that may not match. Patterns can be nested at any level.
Ela supports the following patterns:
Pattern Grammar Example Description
Name ident x Irrefutable pattern, binds a value to a name.
As pattern@name (x::xs)@list Irrefutable pattern, binds an expression to a name.
Wildcard _ _ Irrefutable pattern, always matches and disregards a value.
Group ( pattern ) (x::xs) Grouping pattern, used to group patterns.
Unit () () Refutable pattern, matches unit.
Literal literal "string" Refutable pattern, matches a given literal. Numeric literal, string, chars and booleans are supported.
Tuple (pattern{,pattern}) (x,1,(x::xs)) Refutable pattern, matches tuple.
Record {pattern{,pattern}} {x,y,z} or {x'=x,y=y'} Refutable pattern, matches a record and binds its fields to names. If names are not specified it creates bindings with tde same names as record fields.
List [pattern{,pattern}] [1,2,x] Refutable pattern, matches a linked list of a specified lengtd.
Head/Tail pattern{::pattern} x::(1,2)::xs Refutable pattern, matches a linked list. Unlike list pattern, it doesn't test a list length and if the last pattern is a name this name gets bound a list tail.
Constructor Constructor pattern Some x Refutable pattern, matches an instance of an algebraic type.
Lazy pattern & pattern & (x,y) Irrefutable pattern, matches a value in a lazy manner.
Bang pattern ! ident !x Irrefutable pattern, forces evaluation of a value and binds it to a name. This pattern also infers a context from the argument to which is is applied. See articles Classes, section Contexts for more details.