Scheme Programming/Abstractions with Data

Introduction to Complex NumbersEdit

In order to show how abstractions with data can be built, we're going to go through making a complex number package. A complex number is one that has 2 parts, a real part, and an imaginary part. They are often written in one of two ways, in rectangular form:


And in polar form:


Now, we can can do all of the usual arithmetic with complex numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. There are simple formulae for this;


 (a + bi) + (x + yi) = (a+x) + ((b+y)i)


 (a+bi)-(x+yi) = (a-x) + ((b-y)i)


 Re^{i\theta} \cdot Pe^{i\phi} = R \cdot P e^{i (\theta + \phi)}


  \frac{Re^{i\theta}}{Pe^{i\phi}} = \frac{R}{P} e^{i (\theta - \phi)}

Note how multiplication and division are best expressed in polar form, while addition and subtraction are best expressed in rectangular form. This raises an interesting question: How does one best go about computing these? Do we have one internal representation? If so, which do we chose? There are a large amount of questions. These can be answered by trying to implement a new type of data; the complex number type.

Creating our Generic 'Typed' VariableEdit

Firstly, we shall create a generic 'Typed' variable:

(define typed-variable
  (lambda (type value)
    (cons 'Typed (list type value))

We now need a way to tell if a given variable has a type:

(define typed?
  (lambda (var)
    (and (list? var) (= 'Typed (car var)))

Now, we've introduced two important concepts here, a 'Predicate' and a 'Constructor'. The first is a construct to find if some data is of the correct form, and the second is a procedure that builds our data structure for us.

We must have a way of extracting our data (in this case, the type) from this structure, a way of 'selecting' it:

(define type-of
  (lambda (var)
    (if (typed? var)
      (car (cdr var)

Creating our Complex Number Data TypeEdit

Building our ConstructorsEdit

Using this typed value, we can go on to form a more detailed data structure for out complex number:

(define complex-rect
  (lambda (a b)
    (typed-variable 'Rect-Complex (list a b))

Now let's continue, and create a complex-polar:

(define complex-polar
  (lambda (r thet)
    (typed-variable 'Polar-Complex (list r thet))
(define complex
  (lambda (type first-var second-var)
    (if (equal? 'type Polar)
        (cons (complex-polar first-var second-var) 
              (complex-rect (sqrt (+ (expt first-var 2) 
                                     (expt second-var 2)
        )  ;; Change second half to be the calculated values.
        (cons (complex-polar 0 0) (complex-rect first-var second-var))

Building our PredicatesEdit

We have our constructors, now we need our predicates:

(define is-complex?
  (lambda (var)
    (and (typed? (car var)) 
         (or (= 'Rect-Complex (type-of (car var))) 
             (= 'Polar-Complex (type-of (car var)))

Now we can define our arithmetic in terms of these procedures.

Last modified on 10 March 2011, at 02:08