F# - Discriminated Unions


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Unions, or discriminated unions allows you to build up complex data structures representing well-defined set of choices. For example, you need to build an implementation of a choice variable, which has two values yes and no. Using the Unions tool, you can design this.

Syntax

Discriminated unions are defined using the following syntax −

type type-name =
   | case-identifier1 [of [ fieldname1 : ] type1 [ * [ fieldname2 : ] 
type2 ...]
   | case-identifier2 [of [fieldname3 : ]type3 [ * [ fieldname4 : ]type4 ...]
...

Our simple implementation of ,choice, will look like the following −

type choice =
   | Yes
   | No

The following example uses the type choice −

type choice =
   | Yes
   | No

let x = Yes (* creates an instance of choice *)
let y = No (* creates another instance of choice *)
let main() =
   printfn "x: %A" x
   printfn "y: %A" y
main()

When you compile and execute the program, it yields the following output −

x: Yes
y: No

Example 1

The following example shows the implementation of the voltage states that sets a bit on high or low −

type VoltageState =
   | High
   | Low

let toggleSwitch = function (* pattern matching input *)
   | High -> Low
   | Low -> High

let main() =
   let on = High
   let off = Low
   let change = toggleSwitch off

   printfn "Switch on state: %A" on
   printfn "Switch off state: %A" off
   printfn "Toggle off: %A" change
   printfn "Toggle the Changed state: %A" (toggleSwitch change)

main()

When you compile and execute the program, it yields the following output −

Switch on state: High
Switch off state: Low
Toggle off: High
Toggle the Changed state: Low

Example 2

type Shape =
   // here we store the radius of a circle
   | Circle of float

   // here we store the side length.
   | Square of float

   // here we store the height and width.
   | Rectangle of float * float

let pi = 3.141592654

let area myShape =
   match myShape with
   | Circle radius -> pi * radius * radius
   | Square s -> s * s
   | Rectangle (h, w) -> h * w

let radius = 12.0
let myCircle = Circle(radius)
printfn "Area of circle with radius %g: %g" radius (area myCircle)

let side = 15.0
let mySquare = Square(side)
printfn "Area of square that has side %g: %g" side (area mySquare)

let height, width = 5.0, 8.0
let myRectangle = Rectangle(height, width)
printfn "Area of rectangle with height %g and width %g is %g" height width (area myRectangle)

When you compile and execute the program, it yields the following output −

Area of circle with radius 12: 452.389
Area of square that has side 15: 225
Area of rectangle with height 5 and width 8 is 40


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