SICP Book Club: 1.3.1 (What Are Higher-Order Procedures?)

The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.

Gabriel Garciá Márquez on Anonymous Functions

A dialogue between two seekers of knowledge

Alexis: Tael'r, I beseech your aid.

Tael'r: What is it, friend?

Alexis: I am uncovering the mysteries of higher-order procedures, but I am battling a bug.

Tael'r: Pray, show me your code.

Alexis: Very well. I am trying to implement Simpson's Rule as specified in Exercise 1.29.

(define (sum term a next b)
  (if (> a b)
      (+ (term a)
         (sum term (next a) next b))))

(define (cube x) (* x x x))

(define (inc x) (+ x 1))

(define (simpson n f a b) 
  ((let ((h (/ (- b a) n)))
     (define (simpson-term k) 
       (let ((y (f (+ a (* k h)))))
         (if (or (= k 0) (= k n))
             (if (even? k) 
                 (* 2 y)
                 (* 4 y)))))
     (* (/ h 3) 
        (sum simpson-term a inc b)))))

Tael'r: Do you know where the bug hides?

Alexis: No. The interpreter tells me that The object 1/75000000 is not applicable.. But I lack the skill with the debugger to tell where this is happening.

Tael'r: Well then, I recommend you simplify. We don't need to abandon all we have learned because we are working with a new language. When you don't understand a problem, break it down.

Alexis: Of course. Thank you, my wise friend.

Alexis returns to the mountain where she does her coding and returns some minutes later.

Alexis: I got it to work! But it's a bit... janky.

Tael'r: Let me see.

(define (simpson-term a h k n f)
; Compute y sub k
  (let ((y (f (+ a (* k h)))))
;Special cases for first and final term
    (cond ((or (= k 0) (= k n)) y)
          ((even? k) (* 2 y))
          ((odd? k) (* 4 y)))))

(define (curry-simpson a h n f)
  (lambda (k)
    (simpson-term a h k n f)))

(define (simpson f a b n) 
  (let ((h (/ (- b a) n)))
     (/ h 3)
     (sum (curry-simpson a h n f) a inc n))))

Tael'r: Ah, I see. To break the problem apart you had to find a way to bind variables local to simpson to simpson-term.

Alexis: Yes, I think this is more complex than it needs to be.

Tael'r: Perhaps. And I think you're abusing the term "curry", but I get what you mean. That's ok. One must write ugly code before writing elegant code.

Alexis: The road to enlightenment will be long.