Build Status


bilby.js is a serious functional programming library. Serious, meaning it applies category theory to enable highly abstract and generalised code. Functional, meaning that it enables referentially transparent programs.

Some features include:



var bilby = require('bilby');


<script src="bilby-min.js"></script>


Download the code with git:

git clone

Install the development dependencies with npm:

npm install

Run the tests with grunt:

npm test

Build the concatenated scripts with grunt:

$(npm bin)/grunt

Generate the documentation with emu:

$(npm bin)/emu < bilby.js


Environments are very important in bilby. The library itself is implemented as a single environment.

An environment holds methods and properties.

Methods are implemented as multimethods, which allow a form of ad-hoc polymorphism. Duck typing is another example of ad-hoc polymorphism but only allows a single implementation at a time, via prototype mutation.

A method instance is a product of a name, a predicate and an implementation:

var env = bilby.environment()
        // Name
        // Predicate
        function(n) {
            return typeof n == 'number';
        // Implementation
        function(n) {
            return -n;

env.negate(100) == -100;

We can now override the environment with some more implementations:

var env2 = env
        function(b) {
            return typeof b == 'boolean';
        function(b) {
            return !b;

env2.negate(100) == -100;
env2.negate(true) == false;

The environments are immutable; references to env won't see an implementation for boolean. The env2 environment could have overwritten the implementation for number and code relying on env would still work.

Properties can be accessed without dispatching on arguments. They can almost be thought of as methods with predicates that always return true:

var env = bilby.environment()
    .property('name', 'Brian'); == 'Brian';

This means that bilby's methods can be extended:

function MyData(data) { = data;

var _ = bilby.method(
    function(a, b) {
        return this.equal(,;

    new MyData(1),
    new MyData(1)
) == true;

    new MyData(1),
    new MyData(2)
) == false;

environment(methods = {}, properties = {})


The helpers module is a collection of functions used often inside of bilby.js or are generally useful for programs.


Returns the name of function f.


Returns the arity of function f.


Makes this inside of f equal to o:

bilby.bind(function() { return this; })(a)() == a

Also partially applies arguments:

bilby.bind(bilby.add)(null, 10)(32) == 42


Takes a normal function f and allows partial application of its named arguments:

var add = bilby.curry(function(a, b) {
        return a + b;
    add15 = add(15);

add15(27) == 42;

Retains ability of complete application by calling the function when enough arguments are filled:

add(15, 27) == 42;


Flips the order of arguments to f:

var append = bilby.curry(function(a, b) {
        return a + b;
    prepend = flip(concat);


Identity function. Returns o:

forall a. identity(a) == a


Constant function. Creates a function that always returns c, no matter the argument:

forall a b. constant(a)(b) == a

compose(f, g)

Creates a new function that applies f to the result of g of the input argument:

forall f g x. compose(f, g)(x) == f(g(x))


Partial polyfill for Object.create - creates a new instance of the given prototype.

getInstance(self, constructor)

Always returns an instance of constructor.

Returns self if it is an instanceof constructor, otherwise constructs an object with the correct prototype.

tagged(name, fields)

Creates a simple constructor for a tagged object.

var Tuple = tagged('Tuple', ['a', 'b']);
var x = Tuple(1, 2);
var y = new Tuple(3, 4);
x instanceof Tuple && y instanceof Tuple;


Creates a disjoint union of constructors, with a catamorphism.

var List = taggedSum({
    Cons: ['car', 'cdr'],
    Nil: []
function listLength(l) {
    return l.cata({
        Cons: function(car, cdr) {
            return 1 + listLength(cdr);
        Nil: function() {
            return 0;
listLength(List.Cons(1, new List.Cons(2, List.Nil()))) == 2;


Turns the throw new Error(s) statement into an expression.

zip(a, b)

Takes two lists and pairs their values together into a "tuple" (2 length list):

zip([1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6]) == [[1, 4], [2, 5], [3, 6]]

singleton(k, v)

Creates a new single object using k as the key and v as the value. Useful for creating arbitrary keyed objects without mutation:

singleton(['Hello', 'world'].join(' '), 42) == {'Hello world': 42}

extend(a, b)

Right-biased key-value append of objects a and b:

bilby.extend({a: 1, b: 2}, {b: true, c: false}) == {a: 1, b: true, c: false}


Returns true iff o has typeof s.


Returns true iff a is a Function.


Returns true iff a is a Boolean.


Returns true iff a is a Number.


Returns true iff a is a String.


Returns true iff a is an Array.


Returns true iff o is an instance of c.


Sentinal value for when any type of primitive value is needed.


Sentinal value for when a single character string is needed.


Sentinal value for when an array of a particular type is needed:



Returns true iff a is an instance of arrayOf.


Sentinal value for when an object with specified properties is needed:

    age: Number,
    name: String


Returns true iff a is an instance of objectLike.


Curried function for ||.


Curried function for &&.


Curried function for +.


Curried function for ===.

liftA2(f, a, b)

Lifts a curried, binary function f into the applicative passes a and b as parameters.

sequence(m, a)

Sequences an array, a, of values belonging to the m monad:

 bilby.sequence(Array, [
     [1, 2],
     [4, 5]
 ]) == [
     [1, 3, 4],
     [1, 3, 5],
     [2, 3, 4],
     [2, 3, 5]


Reifies continutations onto the heap, rather than the stack. Allows efficient tail calls.

Example usage:

function loop(n) {
    function inner(i) {
        if(i == n) return bilby.done(n);
        return bilby.cont(function() {
            return inner(i + 1);

    return bilby.trampoline(inner(0));

Where loop is the identity function for positive numbers. Without trampolining, this function would take n stack frames.


Result constructor for a continuation.


Continuation constructor. thunk is a nullary closure, resulting in a done or a cont.


The beginning of the continuation to call. Will repeatedly evaluate cont thunks until it gets to a done value.

Do (operator overloading)

Adds operator overloading for functional syntax:


Creates a new syntax scope. The a expression is allowed multiple usages of a single operator per Do call:

The associated name will be called on the bilby environment with the operands. For example:

bilby.Do()(bilby.some(1) + bilby.some(2))

Desugars into:

bilby.append(bilby.some(1), bilby.some(2))


Used to mutate the valueOf property on proto. Necessary to do the Do block's operator overloading. Uses the object's existing valueOf if not in a Do block.

Warning: this mutates proto. May not be safe, even though it tries to default back to the normal behaviour when not in a Do block.


Option a = Some a + None

The option type encodes the presence and absence of a value. The some constructor represents a value and none represents the absence.


Constructor to represent the existance of a value, x.


Represents the absence of a value.


Returns true iff a is a some or none.


Either a b = Left a + Right b

Represents a tagged disjunction between two sets of values; a or b. Methods are right-biased.


Constructor to represent the left case.


Constructor to represent the (biased) right case.


Returns true iff a is a left or a right.


Validation e v = Failure e + Success v

The Validation data type represents a "success" value or a semigroup of "failure" values. Validation has an applicative functor which collects failures' errors or creates a new success value.

Here's an example function which validates a String:

function nonEmpty(field, string) {
    return string
        ? λ.success(string)
        : λ.failure([field + " must be non-empty"]);

We might want to give back a full-name from a first-name and last-name if both given were non-empty:

function getWholeName(firstName) {
    return function(lastName) {
        return firstName + " " + lastName;
    λ.map(nonEmpty("First-name", firstName), getWholeName),
    nonEmpty("Last-name", lastName)

When given a non-empty firstName ("Brian") and lastName ("McKenna"):

λ.success("Brian McKenna");

If given only an invalid firstname:

λ.failure(['First-name must be non-empty']);

If both values are invalid:

    'First-name must be non-empty',
    'Last-name must be non-empty'


Represents a successful value.


Represents a failure.

errors must be a semigroup (i.e. have an append implementation in the environment).


Returns true iff a is a success or a failure.


Lenses allow immutable updating of nested data structures.

store(setter, getter)

A store is a combined getter and setter that can be composed with other stores.


Returns true iff a is a store.


A total lens takes a function, f, which itself takes a value and returns a store.


Returns true iff a is a lens.


Creates a total lens over an object for the k key.


Purely functional IO wrapper.


Pure wrapper around a side-effecting f function.


Returns true iff a is an io.


QuickCheck is a form of automated specification testing. Instead of manually writing tests cases like so:

assert(0 + 1 == 1);
assert(1 + 1 == 2);
assert(3 + 3 == 6);

We can just write the assertion algebraicly and tell QuickCheck to automaticaly generate lots of inputs:

    function(n) {
        return n + n == 2 * n;
    function(fail) {
        return "Failed after " + fail.tries + " tries: " + fail.inputs.toString();
    "All tests passed!",


forAll(property, args)

Generates values for each type in args using bilby.arb and then passes them to property, a function returning a Boolean. Tries goal number of times or until failure.

Returns an Option of a failureReporter:

var reporter = bilby.forAll(
    function(s) {
        return isPalindrome(s + s.split('').reverse().join(''));


The number of successful inputs necessary to declare the whole property a success:

var _ ='goal', 1000);

Default is 100.