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Plumbing and Graph: the Clojure utility belt

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This first release includes our ‘Graph’ library, our plumbing.core library of very commonly used functions (the only namespace we :use across our codebase), and a few other supporting namespaces.

New in 0.3.0: support for ClojureScript

New in 0.2.0: support for schema.core/defn-style schemas on fnks and Graphs. See (doc fnk) for details.

Leiningen dependency (Clojars):

Clojars Project

Latest API docs.

This is an alpha release. We are using it internally in production, but the API and organizational structure are subject to change. Comments and suggestions are much appreciated.

Check back often, because we'll keep adding more useful namespaces and functions as we work through cleaning up and open-sourcing our stack of Clojure libraries.

Graph: the Functional Swiss-Army Knife

Graph is a simple and declarative way to specify a structured computation, which is easy to analyze, change, compose, and monitor. Here's a simple example of an ordinary function definition, and its Graph equivalent:

(require '[plumbing.core :refer (sum)])
(defn stats
  "Take a map {:xs xs} and return a map of simple statistics on xs"
  [{:keys [xs] :as m}]
  (assert (contains? m :xs))
  (let [n  (count xs)
        m  (/ (sum identity xs) n)
        m2 (/ (sum #(* % %) xs) n)
        v  (- m2 (* m m))]
    {:n n   ; count
     :m m   ; mean
     :m2 m2 ; mean-square
     :v v   ; variance

(require '[plumbing.core :refer (fnk sum)])
(def stats-graph
  "A graph specifying the same computation as 'stats'"
  {:n  (fnk [xs]   (count xs))
   :m  (fnk [xs n] (/ (sum identity xs) n))
   :m2 (fnk [xs n] (/ (sum #(* % %) xs) n))
   :v  (fnk [m m2] (- m2 (* m m)))})

A Graph is just a map from keywords to keyword functions (learn more). In this case, stats-graph represents the steps in taking a sequence of numbers (xs) and producing univariate statistics on those numbers (i.e., the mean m and the variance v). The names of arguments to each fnk can refer to other steps that must happen before the step executes. For instance, in the above, to execute :v, you must first execute the :m and :m2 steps (mean and mean-square respectively).

We can “compile” this Graph to produce a single function (equivalent to stats), which also checks that the map represents a valid Graph:

(require '[plumbing.graph :as graph] '[schema.core :as s])
(def stats-eager (graph/compile stats-graph))

(= {:n 4
    :m 3
    :m2 (/ 25 2)
    :v (/ 7 2)}
   (into {} (stats-eager {:xs [1 2 3 6]})))

;; Missing :xs key exception
(thrown? Throwable (stats-eager {:ys [1 2 3]}))

Moreover, as of the 0.1.0 release, stats-eager is fast – only about 30% slower than the hand-coded stats if xs has a single element, and within 5% of stats if xs has ten elements.

Unlike the opaque stats fn, however, we can modify and extend stats-graph using ordinary operations on maps:

(def extended-stats
    (assoc stats-graph
      :sd (fnk [^double v] (Math/sqrt v)))))

(= {:n 4
    :m 3
    :m2 (/ 25 2)
    :v (/ 7 2)
    :sd (Math/sqrt 3.5)}
   (into {} (extended-stats {:xs [1 2 3 6]})))

A Graph encodes the structure of a computation, but not how it happens, allowing for many execution strategies. For example, we can compile a Graph lazily so that step values are computed as needed. Or, we can parallel-compile the Graph so that independent step functions are run in separate threads:

(def lazy-stats (graph/lazy-compile stats-graph))

(def output (lazy-stats {:xs [1 2 3 6]}))
;; Nothing has actually been computed yet
(= (/ 25 2) (:m2 output))
;; Now :n and :m2 have been computed, but :v and :m are still behind a delay

(def par-stats (graph/par-compile stats-graph))

(def output (par-stats {:xs [1 2 3 6]}))
;; Nodes are being computed in futures, with :m and :m2 going in parallel after :n
(= (/ 7 2) (:v output))

We can also ask a Graph for information about its inputs and outputs (automatically computed from its definition):

(require '[plumbing.fnk.pfnk :as pfnk])

;; stats-graph takes a map with one required key, :xs
(= {:xs s/Any}
   (pfnk/input-schema stats-graph))

;; stats-graph outputs a map with four keys, :n, :m, :m2, and :v
(= {:n s/Any :m s/Any :m2 s/Any :v s/Any}
   (pfnk/output-schema stats-graph))

If schemas are provided on the inputs and outputs of the node functions, these propagate through into the Graph schema as expected.

We can also have higher-order functions on Graphs to wrap the behavior on each step. For instance, we can automatically profile each sub-function in ‘stats’ to see how long it takes to execute:

(def profiled-stats (graph/compile (graph/profiled ::profile-data stats-graph)))

;;; times in milliseconds for each step:
(= {:n 1.001, :m 0.728, :m2 0.996, :v 0.069}
   @(::profile-data (profiled-stats {:xs (range 10000)})))

… and so on. For more examples and details about Graph, check out the graph examples test.

Bring on (de)fnk

Many of the functions we write (in Graph and elsewhere) take a single (nested) map argument with keyword keys and have expectations about which keys must be present and which are optional. We developed a new style of binding (read more here) to make this a lot easier and to check that input data has the right ‘shape’. We call these ‘keyword functions’ (defined by defnk) and here's what one looks like:

(use 'plumbing.core)
(defnk simple-fnk [a b c]
  (+ a b c))

(= 6 (simple-fnk {:a 1 :b 2 :c 3}))
;; Below throws: Key :c not found in (:a :b)
(thrown? Throwable (simple-fnk {:a 1 :b 2}))

You can declare a key as optional and provide a default: ```clojure (defnk simple-opt-fnk [a b {c 1}] (+ a b c))

(= 4 (simple-opt-fnk {:a 1 :b 2})) ```

You can do nested map bindings: ```clojure (defnk simple-nested-fnk [a [:b b1] c] (+ a b1 c))

(= 6 (simple-nested-fnk {:a 1 :b {:b1 2} :c 3})) ;; Below throws: Expected a map at key-path [:b], got type class java.lang.Long (thrown? Throwable (simple-nested-fnk {:a 1 :b 1 :c 3})) ```

Of course, you can bind multiple variables from an inner map and do multiple levels of nesting: ```clojure (defnk simple-nested-fnk2 [a [:b b1 [:c {d 3}]]] (+ a b1 d))

(= 4 (simple-nested-fnk2 {:a 1 :b {:b1 2 :c {:d 1}}})) (= 5 (simple-nested-fnk2 {:a 1 :b {:b1 1 :c {}}})) ```

You can also use this binding style in a let statement using letk or within an anonymous function by using fnk.

More good stuff

There are a bunch of functions in plumbing.core that we can't live without. Here are a few of our favorites.

When we build maps, we often use for-map, which works like for but for maps:

(use 'plumbing.core)
(= (for-map [i (range 3)
             j (range 3)
             :let [s (+ i j)]
             :when (< s 3)]
      [i j]
   {[0 0] 0, [0 1] 1, [0 2] 2, [1 0] 1, [1 1] 2, [2 0] 2})

safe-get is like get but throws when the key doesn't exist:

;; IllegalArgumentException Key :c not found in {:a 1, :b 2}
(thrown? Exception (safe-get {:a 1 :b 2} :c))

Another frequently used map function is map-vals:

;; return k -> (f v) for [k, v] in map
(= (map-vals inc {:a 0 :b 0})
   {:a 1 :b 1})

Ever wanted to conditionally do steps in a ->> or ->? Now you can with our ‘penguin’ operators. Here's a few examples:

(use 'plumbing.core)
(= (let [add-b? false]
     (-> {:a 1}
         (merge {:c 2})
         (?> add-b? (assoc :b 2))))
   {:a 1 :c 2})

(= (let [inc-all? true]
     (->> (range 10)
          (filter even?)
          (?>> inc-all? (map inc))))
    [1 3 5 7 9])

Check out plumbing.core for many other useful functions.


As of 0.3.0, plumbing is available in ClojureScript! The vast majority of the library supports ClojureScript, with the only exceptions that are JVM-specific optimizations.

Here's an example usage of for-map:

(ns plumbing.readme
  (:require [plumbing.core :refer-macros [for-map]]))

(defn js-obj->map
  "Recursively converts a JavaScript object into a map with keyword keys"
  (for-map [k (js-keys obj)
            :let [v (aget obj k)]]
    (keyword k) (if (object? v) (js-obj->map v) v)))

(is (= {:a 1 :b {:x "x" :y "y"}}
        (js-obj "a" 1
                "b" (js-obj "x" "x"
                            "y" "y")))))

;; Note: this is a contrived example; you would normally use `cljs.core/clj->js`


Plumbing now has a mailing list. Please feel free to join and ask questions or discuss how you're using Plumbing and Graph.

Supported Clojure versions

Plumbing is currently supported on Clojure 1.5.x and 1.6.x.


Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.