C# LINQ, Monads, and Abstraction

I want to show you a little trick. If you are a C# developer looking to learn some functional programming, this post might be interesting for you.

Here's some abstraction geek and poke comic strip

LINQ SelectMany

Here’s the definition of the SelectMany method in C# LINQ:

public static IEnumerable<TResult> SelectMany<TSource, TResult>(
this IEnumerable<TSource> source,
Func<TSource, IEnumerable<TResult>> selector

This method gets two parameters:

  • source—which is a sequence of values;
  • selector—which is a function that should be applied to each value in the source.

The method returns a sequence of values, each element is the result of invoking the selector function to an item in the source.

Type parameters allows to specify a type of the source elements as TSource and a type of returned elements as TResult.

You may check examples of using SelectMany method.

Moving from C# to Haskell

Now let’s do some simple changes.

First, let’s change types TSouce and TResult to a shorter versions of a and b. We’ll get:

public static IEnumerable<b> SelectMany<a, b>(
this IEnumerable<a> source,
Func<a, IEnumerable<b>> selector

Now, let’s change the name of the interface from IEnumerable to M:

public static M<b> SelectMany<a, b>(
this M<a> source,
Func<a, M<b>> selector

And now for the interesting part.

Let’s switch this method definition from C# language to Haskell. Without changing any types the signature of SelectMany will look like the following:

SelectMany :: M a -> (a -> M b) -> M b

This definition describes the same signature as the original SelectMany definition.


If we’ll look at the Monad definition in Haskell, we’ll find that each Monad should have an implementation of the bind operator that has the following signature:

(>>=) :: M a -> (a -> M b) -> M b

As you can see, the signature is the same as in LINQ SelectMany method. And it is not a coincidence.

If you are a C# developer interested in functional programming, I recommend you to watch this video with Brian Beckman. It won’t make you a functional programming expert, but it is a good starting point in learning it.

Have fun! And don’t fear the Monad!

How to Add Custom Script to Single Post in Jekyll
Adding Post Series to Jekyll Site