[R] functional (?) programming in r

Wacek Kusnierczyk Waclaw.Marcin.Kusnierczyk at idi.ntnu.no
Mon Nov 17 22:28:05 CET 2008

the following is a trivialized version of some functional code i tried
to use in r:

(funcs = lapply(1:5, function(i) function() i))
# a list of no-parameter functions, each with its own closure environment,
# each supposed to return the corresponding index when applied to no

sapply(funcs, function(func) func())
# supposed to return c(1,2,3,4,5)

there is absolutely nothing unusual in this code, in the context of
functional programming.
the following is my best translation to python (modulo indexing, which
is inessential), where it does what i wanted:

funcs = map(lambda i: lambda: i, range(5))
map(lambda func: func(), funcs)
# [0,1,2,3,4]

all these functions have distinct environments:

(envs = sapply(funcs, function(func) environment(func)))
assign("i", 0, environment(envs[[1]]))
sapply(funcs, function(func) func())

interestingly, identical says they are all unequal, but compare disagrees.

check = function(equal) for (i in 1:4) for (j in i:4+1)
print(equal(envs[[i]], envs[[j]]))

compare seems to cast environments to character; for identical, the docs
give an example where environments are compared, but compare fails
(i.e., succeeds) miserably (the docs do not warn not to compare

e1 = new.env(parent=emptyenv())
e2 = new.env(parent=emptyenv())
assign("foo", "bar", e1)
compare(e1, e2)
# oops?

back to the original example, how come?


for those curious, try the following in python:

map(lambda func: func(), [lambda: i for i in range(5)])
map(lambda func: func(), (lambda: i for i in range(5)))

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