Balancing Parentheses

Posted on 2018-01-16 by nbloomf
Tags: literate-haskell

This post is literate Haskell; you can load the source into GHCi and play along.

module BalanceDelimiters where

import Data.List
import Data.Tuple
import Control.Monad

import System.Exit
import System.Environment
import System.Console.GetOpt

Let’s make a tool to find unbalanced parentheses.

What does it mean for the parentheses in a string to be balanced? We could come up with a recursive definition, like

  1. If \(u\) does not contain either '(' or ')', then \(u\) is balanced;
  2. If \(u\) is balanced, then \((u)\) is balanced; and
  3. If \(u\) and \(v\) are balanced, then \(uv\) is balanced.

We can use these rules to construct balanced strings one step at a time. For example,

But what if we want to detect balanced strings? We can do that with a stack. Consume the first character (or “token”) of the string; if it is an open parenthesis, push it onto the stack; if it is a closing parenthesis try to pop a previously pushed opening parenthesis off of the stack (if we can’t, there’s a closing paren with no opening paren); if it is neither, throw it away. Recurse on the remainder of the string until it is empty. If the stack is not empty at the end, there is an opening paren with no closing paren.

The pattern here matches a fold over the input string, taken as a list of tokens. We generalize the process of consuming a single character slightly as checkToken1; this map takes (1) a pair represening the opening and closing tokens, (2) a stack, and (3) a single token, and returns an updated stack. The return type is a Maybe to account for the failure case where we attempt to pop an empty stack.

checkToken1 :: (Eq a) => (a,a) -> [a] -> a -> Maybe [a]
checkToken1 (open,close) stack token =
  if token == open
    then Just (open:stack)
    else if token == close
      then case stack of
        [] -> Nothing
        (w:ws) -> if open == w then Just ws else Just stack
      else Just stack

Wrapping checkToken1 in a monadic fold, with an empty stack as the base value, we can balance strings.

balance1 :: (Eq a) => (a,a) -> [a] -> Maybe [a]
balance1 ds = foldM (checkToken1 ds) []

For example:

$> balance1 ('(',')') "hello world"
Just ""
$> balance1 ('(',')') "hello w(orld"
Just "("
$> balance1 ('(',')') "hello w(or)ld"
Just ""
$> balance1 ('(',')') "hello w(or)l)d"
$> balance1 ('(',')') "hell(o w(or)l)d"
Just ""

Note the two different failure cases. Nothing means we have an unbalanced closing paren, and Just (_:_) means we have an unbalanced opening paren.


But can we do better? This program has some weaknesses that make it less than ideal for my needs.

  1. It can only handle one set of delimiters. In practice, text will have delimiters of several kinds, which can be nested inside each other. For instance, we’d like "(){}" to be balanced, as well as "({})", but not "({)}".
  2. It can only handle delimiters consisting of a single character, at least, not without tokenizing the input string first.
  3. It can only tell us whether an unbalanced delimiter exists; it doesn’t tell us where it is.

It won’t take much to beef up balance1 to handle these issues.

First, let’s deal with the problem of specifying locations in text. I can think of two basic scenarios: (1) we have a single line of text and want to specify the column number of a single character, and (2) we have several lines of text and want to specify the line and column numbers of a single character.

In the first case, we want to turn a [a] into something like [(a,Int)]. The standard zip can handle this.

num :: [a] -> [(a,Int)]
num xs = zip xs [1..]

Thinking of [a] as a list of graphemes, num just attaches each grapheme to its index in the list.

$> num "hello"

In the second case, we want to turn a [[a]] into something like [(a,(Int,Int))]. This is a little more complicated (but not much).

lineCol :: [[a]] -> [(a,(Int,Int))]
lineCol xss =
  concatMap (\(xs,i) -> map (\(x,j) -> (x,(i,j))) xs) $ num (map num xss)

for example:

$> lineCol ["hello","world"]

In general, we’d like to balance a string against a set of pairs of delimiting substrings. To do this with a strategy like balance1 we’ll need to tokenize the input stream. In this simplified model, our delimiting substrings are tokens, as are any single characters that are not at the head of a delimiting substring. For example, if we’re balancing the delimiters (, ), <<, and >>, then the string


should tokenize as

'(' 'h' 'e' 'y' '<<' 'w' 'o' 'o' '>' ')'

The usual way to do this is to check, for each delimiter, whether it is a prefix of the input stream, and if so, strip it away. Note that our input stream comes equipped with location data, so it will have type [(a,t)] for some location type t, while the delimiter tokens each have type [a]. The stripPrefixMap function will detect and remove prefix tokens. Note the return type; Nothing means the given token was not a prefix, and Just bs returns the remainder of the input after the token is removed.

stripPrefixMap :: (Eq a) => (b -> a) -> [a] -> [b] -> Maybe [b]
stripPrefixMap f x y = case x of
  [] -> Just y
  (a:as) -> case y of
    [] -> Nothing
    (b:bs) -> if a == (f b)
      then stripPrefixMap f as bs
      else Nothing

Next, stripToken takes a list of tokens and an input stream, and returns either a pair consisting of the first token (and the location of its first grapheme) and the remainder of the input stream, or nothing if the input stream is empty.

stripToken :: (Eq a) => [[a]] -> [(a,t)] -> Maybe (([a],t), [(a,t)])
stripToken tokens stream = case stream of
  [] -> Nothing
  ((x,u):zs) -> case tokens of
    [] -> Just (([x],u), zs)
    (t:ts) -> case stripPrefixMap fst t stream of
      Nothing -> stripToken ts stream
      Just ws -> Just ((t,u), ws)

Finally, stripToken has the appropriate type so that tokenize is an unfoldr.

tokenize :: (Eq a) => [[a]] -> [(a,t)] -> [([a],t)]
tokenize ts = unfoldr (stripToken ts)
$> tokenize ["(",")"] (num "hi(woo)")
$> tokenize ["<<","&&"] (num "<hi&&k<<")

Now the old checkToken1 only nees a couple of adaptations to work on multiple delimiters. The failure cases are a little more complicated; now we can have a close with no open, an open with no close, or a close with a mismatched open.

checkToken :: (Eq a)
  => [(a,a)]
  -> [(a,t)]
  -> (a,t)
  -> Either (Either (a,t) ((a,t),(a,t))) [(a,t)]
checkToken ds z (x,t) =
  case lookup x ds of
    Just y -> Right ((x,t):z) -- opening delimiter found
    Nothing -> case lookup x (map swap ds) of
      Just y -> case z of -- closing delimiter found
        [] -> Left (Left (x,t)) -- close with no open
        ((w,u):ws) -> if w == y
          then Right ws
          else Left (Right ((x,t),(w,u))) -- close with mismatched open
      Nothing -> Right z

The shape of checkToken is right for foldM.

balance :: (Eq a)
  => [(a,a)]
  -> [(a,t)]
  -> Either (Either (a,t) ((a,t),(a,t))) [(a,t)]
balance ds = foldM (checkToken ds) []

And a helper to turn our list of paired delimiters into a list of tokens:

flat :: [(a,a)] -> [a]
flat [] = []
flat ((a,b):xs) = a:b:(flat xs)

For example:

$> let ds = [("(",")"),("<<",">>")]
$> balance ds $ tokenize (flat ds) $ num "hello"
Right []
$> balance ds $ tokenize (flat ds) $ num "hello("
Right [("(",6)]
$> balance ds $ tokenize (flat ds) $ num "hel)lo"
Left (Left (")",4))
$> balance ds $ tokenize (flat ds) $ num "h(e)llo"
Right []
$> balance ds $ tokenize (flat ds) $ num "h<<ello"
Right [("<<",2)]
$> balance ds $ tokenize (flat ds) $ num "h<<el)lo"
Left (Right ((")",6),("<<",2)))

Again, note the three different failure cases. We’ll wrap this behind a function.

balanceDelimiters :: (Eq a)
  => [([a],[a])]  -- paired delimiters
  -> [(a,t)]      -- stream of graphemes with location data
  -> Either (Either ([a],t) (([a],t),([a],t))) [([a],t)]
balanceDelimiters ds = balance ds . tokenize (flat ds)

Now to wire this function into the shell. Before we can do this, two questions need answers.

  1. Should we balance the entire input, or balance each line separately? We’ll use a flag to toggle this, with “entire input” as the default.
  2. What delimiters should we balance? We’ll use an optional parameter to set this, with a reasonable default.

We’ll use a type to represent these options.

data Flags = Flags
  { lineMode  :: Bool
  , delimiter :: [(String,String)]
  } deriving Show

defaultFlags :: Flags
defaultFlags = Flags
  { lineMode  = False
  , delimiter = [("(",")"),("{","}"),("[","]")]

We’ll use the GetOpt library to handle parsing command line options.

options :: [OptDescr (Flags -> Maybe Flags)]
options =
  [ Option ['l'] ["lines"]
      (NoArg (\opts -> Just $ opts { lineMode = True }))
      "balance each input line separately"

  , Option ['d'] ["delimiters"]
      (ReqArg readDelimiters "STR")
      "delimiter pairs, as a space-delimited string"
    readDelimiters str opts = do
      ds <- readPairs (words str)
      return $ opts { delimiter = ds }

    readPairs :: [String] -> Maybe [(String,String)]
    readPairs z = case z of
      [] -> Just []
      [_] -> Nothing
      (x:y:xs) -> fmap ((x,y):) $ readPairs xs

Some helpers for error messages.

putLoc :: (Show a, Num a) => FilePath -> a -> a -> String
putLoc path line col = concat
  [path, ":", show line, ":", show col]

quote :: String -> String
quote str = "'" ++ str ++ "'"

Now balanceFile handles checking entire files…

balanceFile :: FilePath -> [(String, String)] -> String -> IO ()
balanceFile path ds text =
  case balanceDelimiters ds (fileLoc text) of
    Left (Left (d,(i,j))) -> do
      putStrLn $ unwords
        [ putLoc path i j, "unbalanced closing delimiter", quote d ]
      putStrLn $ ">>> " ++ (lines text)!!i
    Left (Right ((d,(i,j)),(e,(h,k)))) -> do
      putStrLn $ unwords
        [ putLoc path i j, "closing delimiter", quote d
        , "does not match opening", quote e, "at", show h ++ ":" ++ show k
      putStrLn $ ">>> " ++ (lines text)!!i
    Right ((d,(i,j)):_) -> do
      putStrLn $ unwords
        [ putLoc path i j, "unbalanced opening delimiter", quote d ]
      putStrLn $ ">>> " ++ (lines text)!!i
    Right [] -> return ()
    err (i,j) = "line " ++ show i ++ " column " ++ show j

(fileLoc is an improvement over lineCol that won’t allow matches of multi-character delimiters across newlines.)

fileLoc :: String -> [(Char,(Int,Int))]
fileLoc str = unfoldr next (str,(1,1))
    next :: ([Char],(Int,Int))
              -> Maybe ((Char,(Int,Int)), ([Char],(Int,Int)))
    next (str,(row,col)) = case str of
      [] -> Nothing
      (c:cs) -> if c == '\n'
        then Just ((c,(row,col)),(cs,(row+1,1)))
        else Just ((c,(row,col)),(cs,(row,col+1)))

…and balanceLines handles checking each line separately.

balanceLines :: FilePath -> [(String, String)] -> [String] -> IO ()
balanceLines path ds = sequence_ . zipWith (balanceLine path ds) [1..]

balanceLine :: FilePath -> [(String, String)] -> Int -> String -> IO ()
balanceLine path ds k text = do
  case balanceDelimiters ds (num text) of
    Left (Left (d,t)) -> do
      putStrLn $ unwords
        [ putLoc path k t, "unbalanced closing delimiter", quote d ]
      putStrLn $ ">>> " ++ text
    Left (Right ((d,t),(e,u))) -> do
      putStrLn $ unwords
        [ putLoc path k t, "closing delimiter", quote d
        , "does not match opening", quote e, "at column", show u
      putStrLn $ ">>> " ++ text
    Right ((d,t):_) -> do
      putStrLn $ unwords
        [ putLoc path k t, "unbalanced opening delimiter", quote d ]
      putStrLn $ ">>> " ++ text
    Right [] -> return ()

Now main is straightforward enough; we read the command line arguments and call either balanceFile or balanceLines, depending.

main :: IO ()
main = do
  args <- getArgs

    argErr =
      putStr $ usageInfo "options" options

  -- read command line arguments
  (flag, filenames) <- case getOpt Permute options args of
      (opts, rest, []) -> case foldl (>>=) (Just defaultFlags) opts of
        Nothing -> argErr >> exitFailure
        Just fs -> return (fs, rest)
      otherwise -> argErr >> exitFailure

  let ds = delimiter flag

  case (lineMode flag, filenames) of
    -- use stdin
    (False, []) -> do
      getContents >>= balanceFile "stdin" ds

    (False, _) -> do
      let process name = readFile name >>= balanceFile name ds
      sequence_ $ map process filenames

    (True, []) -> do
      (fmap lines getContents) >>= balanceLines "stdin" ds

    (True, _) -> do
      let process name = do
            (fmap lines $ readFile name) >>= balanceLines name ds
      sequence_ $ map process filenames

  return ()